Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson said in an interview published Monday that he has not intruded on news judgment at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the paper he bought in secret last December.
“I have never spoken to anybody in the newsroom, nor have we called them to establish news-gathering policies,” Adelson said in written answers to questions from The New York Times.
The billionaire added that he purchased Nevada’s largest newspaper “as a financial investment” but now realizes it’s quite different than other businesses. “Newspapers are the first of over 50 companies that I started where my employees tell me how to run my business,” Adelson said.
Adelson, who recently pledged his support of Donald Trump in the presidential race, has seen major shakeup at the Review-Journal since his family purchased the paper roughly six months ago — with at least a dozen reporters exiting or making plans to do so, according to the Times.
There have been allegations that Adelson and his representatives have vetoed particular stories and instructed editors to shape stories to make them more favorable to Adelson and his business partners.
Business reporter Jennifer Robison recently left the Review-Journal to become a communications principal for PG&E in San Francisco. She was one of three journalists at the paper who revealed Adelson’s new ownership last December, a fact that the new owner had attempted to keep secret for more than a week.
Fellow whistle-blower James DeHaven left shortly after the news broke and Howard Stutz departed in February to take a job at a law firm. Robison had been on the business news desk of the Review-Journal for more than 11 years, also covering subjects such as the Affordable Care Act, real estate and employment.
Additional staffing departures have raised eyebrows — as well as accusations that the paper has fired employees for disloyalty.
Columnist John L. Smith resigned last month after the paper banned him from writing about casino owners Steve Wynn and Adelson, whose family owns paper. Features editor Stephanie Grimes — who has been outspoken about the Adelson conflict — was let go from the paper last week.
In addition, the Times noted that the billionaire had hired additional reporters and a graphic artists as well as invested in new photo and video equipment.