Here's this week's Weekly col. It includes reaction from Wynn, Lanni and Adelson as well as reaction to reaction from Christina Binkley herself. And I must say publicly what I told her privately, that her willingness to be open and responsive to even her harshest critics is proof that she behaves as she wishes, as a journalist, to be treated. The Las Vegas Sun editors could learn a thing or two from that. It's called class and professional courtesy.
The Strip Sense: She said, They Said
Vegas moguls react to WSJ scribe’s latest tome
by Steve Friess
Last week, I detailed a disturbing list of factual mistakes in Winner Takes All, the book by Christina Binkley of the Wall Street Journal about the past decade or so of wheeling and dealing that created the Las Vegas Strip as we know it.
Binkley’s book deserves special scrutiny because of who she is—the longtime gaming-beat writer for one of the world’s most important newspapers—as well as what she wrote. In the book, she portrays Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn as both visionary and petty, MGM Mirage CEO Terry Lanni as somewhat detached and Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson as irrelevant and invisible.
Binkley has said in interviews that Wynn is sore about her depiction of the buyout of Mirage Resorts as an unfriendly merger. (To my reading, Binkley actually just lays out the facts as she’s gathered them in that case and lets readers decide.) But Wynn himself told me the piece that sticks in his craw most is a passage in which she reports that Wynn became angry over the $25 million price of something, prompting his German shepherd to “menace” the seller, Dino Fusco, with a threatened bite to the crotch. Wynn got the price down to $15 million.
“Dino and I talked twice this week, and he’s furious about this,” Wynn said. Fusco, Wynn said, insisted he said neither that there had been a rant nor that the dog had threatened him. “In the space of two minutes, you have a story that is twisted so much. And that may live somewhere forever. And it makes you wonder when you read history how much of history is bullshit.”
Binkley told me she has Fusco on a recorded interview and that he hasn’t retracted the tale to her in subsequent conversations. “But I can imagine he didn’t want to tell Steve Wynn that,” she wrote me in an e-mail. “No one, particularly an investment banker, wants to be on the receiving end of Steve Wynn’s fury.”
Indeed, Wynn is livid over the book, which describes his using Mirage Resorts funds recklessly and nickel-and-diming MGM Mirage over their purchase of his Shadow Creek home as well as intimating he’s a liposuctioned Lothario.
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