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Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson Revealed As Buyer of Las Vegas Paper


We have an answer now to what was a mystery when we talked about it on this show a few days ago. That is, who bought the largest newspaper in Nevada? The sale of the Las Vegas Review-Journal happened last week. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik joins us now from New York. And David, pull back the curtain. Who was it?

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: It was the billionaire Sheldon Adelson. He's a billionaire many times over, I might say - enormous investor in casinos, hotels, has interests in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the country at large and internationally as well, as well as being a huge, huge player in political circles in the Republican side of things.

SHAPIRO: And the Adelson family put out a statement today. Why did they keep this purchase secret for a week?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, the statement was forced by a number press reports and, most impressively, by the Review-Journal itself, pointing all the - hunting down the paper trail and pointing the finger at the Adelsons, saying they owned it. They put out a statement saying they never intended this be secret long-term, but they didn't want this to overshadow the important Republican presidential primary debate occurring earlier this week in Las Vegas - Adelson obviously a figure that many of the chief Republican figures court for his financial and political support.

SHAPIRO: What are you hearing from people at the newsroom at the paper in Vegas about how this may affect things?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, it's a huge issue for them. I mean, they're - they cover the gambling. It's called the gaming industry out there. They cover the hospitality industry. They cover Mr. Adelson and his family's interests as well as his competitors' interests and as well as the arguments of his critics and those who might want to regulate it in a different way.

In addition, of course, Nevada is a very competitive state at the presidential level, and they've got to cover the political implications of things there as well. What's been, in addition to that, they've had to deal with is that the publisher, Jason Taylor, who's been held over from the previous ownership, has intervened a number of times. He's personally scrutinized and reviews - reviewed the articles about the purchase - in one case this week, a lopping off about a third of one of the stories about the Adelson's possible involvement in the purchase. And that's affected things, too - the question of the, you know, journalistic independence from the interests of their owners.

SHAPIRO: And, well, so any guess what this means for the future of the paper?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, I think that they're relieved that the Adelsons have walked into the brightness of day, if you will. And at the same time, I think there's going to have to be great clarity about how the Adelsons intend to handle their ownership and their interests. They say they want a good-quality newspaper. But it's worth remembering - Sheldon Adelson has sued two journalists who have run afoul of his interests whom he says has treated him badly, and one of them is currently still a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's David Folkenflik, our media correspondent. Thanks, David.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.