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May 23, 2016 12:28 pm

New York Times Raises Front-Page Alarm About Las Vegas Newspaper’s Zionist Owner

avatar by Ira Stoll

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Casino and media mogul Sheldon Adelson and Dr. Miriam Adelson, co-owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Photo: Wikipedia.

Casino and media mogul Sheldon Adelson and Dr. Miriam Adelson, co-owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Photo: Wikipedia.

The internal machinations at a Las Vegas newspaper owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson are the subject of a front-page New York Times article that runs more than 2,300 words.

What does it all amount to? Some reporters and former reporters complaining about their editors and owners. As someone with experience in the newspaper business, I can tell you with a high degree of certainty that this is not news. That is what reporters and former reporters do — they complain about their editors and owners. It comes with the territory.

Why does it deserve front-page coverage in the New York Times, and at such extensive length?

The Times is remarkably transparent about it:

With newspapers struggling to survive, it is not uncommon for wealthy businesspeople to step in and buy them — Jeff Bezos with The Washington Post, for instance, and John Henry with The Boston Globe. Each case presents potential conflicts in covering the owner’s businesses, as well as concerns that the owner might attempt to influence coverage.

The problem is particularly acute for The Review-Journal. Mr. Adelson, the chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, is a casino magnate, a powerful Republican donor, a patron of education and a fierce defender of Israel, and his myriad interests present an almost singular example of how aggressive journalism can collide with the pursuits of a paper’s owner.

What makes the problem “particularly acute”? The Times explains, with amazing candor, that it is because Mr. Adelson is “a fierce defender of Israel.”

Never mind that John Henry owns the Boston Red Sox, which are as big a deal in Boston as casinos are in Las Vegas. Never mind that Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, which is a big force in business. The newspaper owner who gets the lengthy front-page treatment is Mr. Adelson, because — this really gets the New York Times worried — he is “a fierce defender of Israel.”

There’s no evidence in all 2,300 words of the Times article that the Las Vegas paper’s position on Israel has been affected by the new ownership, or that the paper’s coverage of Israel is particularly influential outside of Las Vegas, or even inside Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas paper is a strange topic for the Times to focus on, of all the possible areas where newspaper ownership could possibly create a “possible conflict” or a concern that an owner “might attempt to influence.” (As opposed to an actual conflict or actual influence by the owner.) Never mind that, in capitalism, the owner of something usually gets to do what he wants with it, which is usually the whole point of paying a lot of money to buy something.

If the Times wants to go looking for “possible” conflicts or places of concern where an owner “might” attempt to influence things, it might instead examine its own situation.

In the very same issue of the Times that raises the front-page, 2,300-word alarm about the supposed horrible threats to the journalistic integrity of a local newspaper in Nevada falling under Zionist ownership, an article appears under the headline, “Mexico Prepares to Counter the ‘Trump Emergency.’” It reports on “a growing, if uncoordinated, chorus of influential Mexicans worried about what a Trump victory could mean for the complex relationship between the United States and Mexico.”

The article about these “influential Mexicans” doesn’t appear on the Times’ front page. And, mysteriously, the article makes no mention at all of the richest person in Mexico, Carlos Slim, whose company, according to Yahoo! Finance, owns 19,853,000 shares — more than $200 million worth — of New York Times Company stock. That means Mr. Slim controls more of the publicly traded New York Times stock than any other institutional or individual investor. Ochs-Sulzberger family trusts control another class of Times Co. shares that control the company.

Where’s the front-page news article on the “particularly acute” possible conflicts presented by Mr. Slim’s investment in the New York Times Co. and the Times’ coverage of Donald Trump’s candidacy? There isn’t one.

That absence, and the double standard on display in the treatment of Mr. Adelson versus the treatment of Mr. Slim, is a good indication that what’s going on here isn’t impartial, unbiased journalism, but just another nasty attempt by the Times to find some way to bash Israel and its defenders. It’s more than a little ironic that in bashing the Las Vegas newspaper for supposedly reflecting its owner’s bias, the Times displays its own.

One final point about the front-page Times article is worth mentioning. The Times refers to “Sheldon G. Adelson, the paper’s new owner.” In all 2,300-plus words of the article, there is no mention of Miriam Adelson. Yet the Las Vegas Review-Journal‘s ownership statement says it “is owned by the family of Sheldon and Miriam Adelson through their controlling interest in News + Media Capital Group LLC.” If this were some other institution entirely ignoring a woman’s ownership role in a business and focusing exclusively on a man’s role, the New York Times would justifiably describe it as sexism. Never mind whether it is sexist or not, the Times‘ omission of Dr. Miriam Adelson’s role in its description of the newspaper’s ownership is inaccurate.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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