The paper that portrayed rejoicing in Israel

May 15, 2018
Category: Newsletters

Las Vegas paper puts 'elated' editorial by owner's wife on page one on deadly day in Israel

After Sheldon Adelson’s secret purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal was exposed in December 2015, the billionaire GOP mega-donor promised in a front-page unsigned editorial not to mess with news priorities.

The only other front-page editorial, also unsigned, endorsed Donald Trump for president in 2016.

Monday, however, saw a front-page editorial bylined by his wife, with her photograph, too. In it, Miriam Adelson thanked America for moving its embassy from internationally recognized Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem. Donald Trump’s move, she wrote, "has re-enshrined the United States as the standard-bearer of moral clarity and courage." The headline read: "U.S. move elates Israelis: A great day for Israel — and for America."

Las Vegas Journal Review

That elation felt like the wrong tone later in the day, as Israeli soldiers killed more than 50 Palestinian protesters and wounded more than 2,400 more in the deadliest day since the 2014 Gaza war. The front page also did not note the obvious conflict of interest: Adelson in February offered to pick up the tab of the U.S. embassy move. And it showed that, Adelson’s promises notwithstanding, he definitely was not playing hands-off with his paper.

For alums of the paper, it was heartbreaking.

"Today is the clearest evidence yet" that the paper is a plaything of Adelson and his lieutenants, wrote Jon Ralston, editor of the Nevada Independent, in his Monday newsletter.

On Tuesday, while The New York Times and The Washington Post focused on the Gaza killings, Adelson’s Las Vegas paper kept the focus on the positive. “Netanyahu thanks U.S. as new embassy opens,” was the headline — with a celebratory photo — of a story written by the regional paper’s Washington correspondent, flown to Israel for the event.

The embassy move earned Trump a "Promise Kept" from Politifact for following through on his election pledge. At the height of the carnage on Monday, the White House issued a release saying it was "fully committed" to Middle East peace.

Related: Twitter is horrible

Even by Twitter standards, Monday was an awful day on the coarse social medium. Trolls and bots gloried in the slayings of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers, spread conspiracy stories about Israelis and gloated over former Senate leader Harry Reid’s pancreatic cancer.

It was too much for Ralston, the Nevada Independent editor.

"It is a measure of the decline of our civil society that we are having to pull almost every comment from our Reid/cancer story because people are gloating or being horrible," Ralston tweeted. "I know Reid is a polarizing figure, but either offer good wishes or STFU."

Quick Hits

SALT LAKE CITY LAYOFFS: The Salt Lake Tribune told 34 of its 90 employees they were being laid off because of declining advertising revenues and shrinking circulation. Several key sections of the 147-year-old paper would be closed or print less frequently, and the departing journalists included some of the paper’s best-known, who were read for generations. "Laying off talented and dedicated colleagues has been flat-out excruciating and represents a tremendous loss not only for this newsroom, but also for our entire community," wrote editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce. "With fewer numbers, we simply can’t be all things to all people."

PRINT ACT: Senators entered a bill to suspend tariffs on Canada for the type of newsprint used for most U.S. newspapers. The newspaper industry told Congress that the new import tariffs – as high as 32 percent – would jeopardize its viability. A bipartisan group of 10 senators introduced the bill.

SUPREME COURT BONANZA FOR SPORTS MEDIA: By removing the ban on sports gambling, the high court has cleared the way for insider sports coverage — something that sites like The Athletic, ESPN and SB Nation could take advantage of, Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton writes.

ARE FACEBOOK ADS WORTH IT?: Radisson Hotel Group, Adidas, O2 and are among advertisers questioning and/or monitoring closely the return on investment for Facebook ads, writes Seb Joseph of Digiday. "If something isn’t working, change it," said Remy Merckx, a Radisson vice president.

HUMBLE FIREFIGHTER, PULITZER-WINNER, DIES: He was a fire district director who took photos in his spare time. His dramatic image of a firefighter trying to resuscitate a 2-year-old girl won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989. Ron Olshwanger, who died April 29 at age 81, always had played down the award, crediting firefighter Adam Long as the real hero and saying the image prompted many to buy smoke detectors.

QUOTE MORE WOMEN: Another male journalist has discovered that — whoops! — he forgot to quote women. New York Times columnist David Leonhardt is doing more, however, such as creating these female expert lists on Twitter and seeking advice from Adrienne LaFrance, editor of, who wrote about this topic, ahem, five years ago. Also today, as we reported, a new list of female tech experts has launched.

ALMOST THE DEADLIEST POLITICAL ASSASSINATION: Nine minutes on a ballfield a year ago. One determined shooter. "Those nine minutes were a near miss of modern American history, between the dark aftermath of a deadly, mass political assassination and our own reality," writes BuzzFeed’s Kate Nocera and Lissandra Villa. (h/t: Anne Glover)

QUICK CATCH-UP: How can journalists work together better? And what insights have we culled at making this business work? These were the topics of two big journalism conferences last week. Nieman Lab’s Christine Schmidt has a brief overview of each. (Note: We covered newsroom collaboration on tracking hate crimes on Monday and I spoke Friday with librarians and journalists at one conference on the idea of our two sides getting together for local news.)

POPULIST OR NOT?: That seems to be the biggest factor in Western Europe in determining whether a person trusts news media or not, according to a Pew study. Yes, it’s a bigger factor than political ideology.

PATREON: The right-wing philosopher Jordan Peterson, the left-wing Chapo Trap House podcast and journalist Laurie Penny. All are benefiting from monthly contributions to Patreon, which itself is on the rise, writes the Guardian’s Alex Hern.

PROMOTED: The Associated Press’s Alicia Chang, to deputy editor for storytelling on the health and science team.

What we’re reading

SECOND CHANCES: He was disgraced in Congress, forced to quit early, stiffed taxpayers on an $84,000 settlement for using public funds to pay off his sex harassment charges and must live with the eternal indignity of having worn duck pajamas to a "slumber party" with women in Washington. Still, for some reason, it didn’t make millionaire Blake Farenthold of Texas long to find a new job in the public. He landed a $160,000-a-year gig with a Texas port authority, reports Chris Ramirez of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Farenthold would be its full-time legislative liaison, keeping an eye on its issues with Washington.

IN POWER, OUT OF CONTROL: She kept a sexually prowling politician at bay — and lost the chance of a good job because of it. How women are forced to use survival strategies to stop the Donald Trumps, Bill Clintons and Eric Schneidermans of the world, by Karen Hinton.

SORRY, GERALDO. NEWS IS NOT A FLIRTY BUSINESS: Why Geraldo Rivera’s "boys will be boys" attitude about Matt Lauer’s alleged assaults is so wrong. Just found Danielle Tcholakian’s Daily Beast essay/survival guide from December, unfortunately still timely, on reporting while female.

ALL APOLOGIES: James Watson was present at the creation of DNA, and his “The Double Helix,” from 1968, is a classic science book of discovery. But Watson became a racist and misogynist, and prominent geneticist Eric Lander apologized Monday for offering a toast to Watson on his 90th birthday. By Sharon Begley of STAT.

EVEN IF YOU HATE THE YANKEES: This is one class act. Quietly, over the past three years, the New York Yankees have been sending flowers to the loved ones of law enforcement officers killed on duty. David Waldstein explores how that started.


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