Last week, it was revealed that News + Media Capital Group—a mysterious Delaware-based company backed by Sheldon Adelson—had purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal and its sister publications for $140 million. Adelson, a casino fat cat and perennial donor to pro-Israel Republican organizations who already own Israel Hayom, Israel’s largest free daily, has long sought to purchase the paper, reported WSJ. The transparency of the purchase, the Review-Journal reported (about itself), was “lacking.”
On Tuesday, the Review-Journal‘s editor, Mike Hengel, announced to paper’s staff, who were “stunned,” that he had accepted a buyout, reportedly calling the decision “mutual.” The terms of Hengel’s buyout had reportedly been agreed to with the Review-Journal’s previous owners, New Media Investment Group, which sold the newspaper to Adelson’s team.
Adelson’s purchase is the latest in a long list of corporations with deep pockets that have swallowed up influential media entities. Reported Think Progress:
Why does this matter? For starters, the owner of a media outlet can exert enormous control over its coverage — not just on the editorial page but in story selection. Wealthy conservative activists already own Fox News and the Wall Street Journal (Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation), the San Francisco and Washington Examiner (Phil Anschutz’s Clarity Media Group), and 164 television stations (Sinclair Broadcast Group). The conservative publisher of the Union Leader in New Hampshire is famous for his front page editorials endorsing Republican candidates.
Adelson has never been shy about getting involved in politics. By some estimates, he is the GOP’s single largest donor. He and his wife reportedly spent about $150 million to elect Republican candidates in the 2012 elections and wrote a check for $5 million to a super PAC that helped elect the GOP congressional majority in 2014. He figures to be a similarly major player in 2016.
Nevada will be a key swing state in the 2016 elections: Barack Obama won it with 52.36 percent of the vote in 2012; George W. Bush carried the state with just 50.47 percent in 2004. Reid’s open senate seat is rated a toss-up by both the Cook Political Report and the University of Virginia Center for Politics. And the February 2016 presidential nomination caucuses will be among the first in the nation.
Today, the Review-Journal‘s new owners published a front-page editorial about the paper’s future (text here).
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.