Sunday, November 9, 2008

Other Media Musings...

There's other stuff to get to today beyond Corey Levitan's piece on this blog and whatever else I've got going on. In fact, there's a few things I've overlooked this week so let's get to it.

1. Is it just me or... did this cartoonist make Sarah Palin look like a transsexual?

2. Sheldon Adelson Drops John L. Smith lawsuit
. Perhaps he's making a bid for better karma now that his company is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy or maybe someone finally got up the guts to tell him that he's legally off his rocker, but LVS CEO Sheldon Adelson finally pulled the plug on his ill-conceived 2005 libel lawsuit against Review-Journal columnist and author John L. Smith. Smith, who had to file for bankruptcy to cope with the financial burden of all of this even as his daughter continues a dramatic and expensive cancer battle for her life, had already apologized in a variety of ways for his inference in his book "Sharks in the Desert" that Adelson had some organized crime connections.

R-J Editor Thomas Mitchell writes today that Adelson gave up because some confidential records about his background could have been made public if the lawsuit went forward. Either way, it's over for John. And it seems that his way out was thanks largely to Vegas attorney Donald Campbell, whom I profiled as the cover boy of this year's annual Mountain States edition of Super Lawyers magazine. You can read that here.

3. Not All Exits This Week Were Graceful. Liberal political columnist Erin Neff signed off the other day after five years with the R-J's editorial page. She took a buyout. It was her decision. But now she whined to Norm Clarke in today's paper that she felt had to go because she was the token lefty anyway and that she was propelled out the door by the fact that the publisher held her column endorsing Barack Obama for a day prior to the election. Now, I don't know what the rules were for R-J columnists, but I did learn recently that New York Times columnists are not permitted to directly endorse candidates for president. So it's not an uncommon restriction; I guess they're afraid if there are conflicting endorsements from the same newspaper it would lessen the impact of the paper's official imprimatur and confuse people. (Both sides would be able to say "Endorsed by the Daily Whatever.")

But Neff did end up getting to essentially make her endorsement, so I don't know what her fuss is. And, either way, she had chosen to take the buyout anyway, so why suddenly get all haughty about it? That said, I do hope that the R-J continues to have some left-leaning local columnists to maintain the balance.

4. Joe The Correction Writer Strikes Again. I'm not going to belabor this because it's getting to be silly and, besides, someone at the Sun may try to gin up a fake controversy against me again if I go too far. But. Our old friend Joe Schoenmann was responsible for yet another very lengthy correction this week, this time a 140-worder that appeared in the Nov. 4 edition of the newspaper. (Remember this 535-word one?) It regards an Oct. 26 piece. But the Sun did not see fit to post the correction on the Internet OR to at least to fix the mistakes in the Web version of the story, so I've done them the service of typing it in:

The Sun’s Oct. 26 “Answers About Clark County Government” contained errors in the segment regarding a report about the North Las Vegas Airport. During the Oct. 21 County Commission meeting, Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, not Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, said that errant pilots should be punished for accidents just as errant motorists are. The airport accident statistics in the story were also incorrect, in part because of errors in the transcript on the county’s Web site. Randall Walker, county aviation director, told the commission that since 2003 there had been only one accident out of 3.3 million “operations,” meaning takeoffs and landings, at McCarran International Airport. In the same period, Henderson Executive Airport had three accidents and 426,000 takeoffs and landings, or one accident for every 142,000 operations. At North Las Vegas Airport, the ratio was one accident for every 62,000 operations.

Hey, Sun folks, how about letting your readers know the OTHER part of why these errors happened? Could it be because your reporter was relying in his reporting not on interviews or actual attendance at public meetings of the body he covers? I once did this job, covering the Clark County Commission. Those meetings are a snooze, no doubt. But it still helps to actually go to them if you're going to write about them. Otherwise, you might as well save some money and outsource this coverage to India, as that newspaper in California did.


Bay in TN said...

Ding! Dong! The witch is dead!

Yeah, I just had to say that. Adelson still annoys me, but at least I can stop boycotting Mario Batali on the grounds that I was boycotting Sheldon Adelson. Batali I like. Adelson? Not so much. I'm so glad he dropped that ridiculous, malicious, and unnecessary lawsuit against John L. Smith!

Now if only someone could make Adelson pay restitution.

Regardless, I'm very happy that the lawsuit is dropped and I can stop denying myself permission to go to the Venetian. That was one tedious one-person boycott! ;)

Anonymous said...

OK, so Neff did get to publish her endorsement after a day's delay. But there are a couple of things that stand out here:

1.) The R-J does not have a policy against columnists endorsing candidates. You know how we can tell? Because Neff endorsed Jim Gibson for governor in the 2006 Democratic primary, remember? And she did it without a hint of controversy, or having her column held.

Was it because Jim Gibson didn't offend Sherm Frederick's sensibilities and Barack Obama did? Whatever the reason, you can't escape the conclusion that the decision was made for ideological reasons and nothing else, which leads us to...

2. The fact that Sherm Frederick made a decision to hold Neff's column at nearly the same time he was writing this paean to free speech to justify the R-J's acceptance of an anti-Obama hate DVD advertisement.

So he holds a political column at odds with his own political views on the one hand, but defends free speech when it comes to Obama haters on the other? Even if you consider that the DVD was a paid advertisement, it seems to me we're talking world-class hypocrisy here.


The thing of it is, they DID run her column, she DID choose to take a buyout and her protest and fuss over this seemed odd and modest. Maybe there's something more to it than how it was presented in Norm, but as it stands this incident is clearly NOT why she opted to take her buyout, so what's her point? She worked there for five years, received quite prominent display for views that the publisher does not agree with. In fact, she was given a chance to sound off about the publisher in the newspaper's own pages after her departure. So what's the beef?

Anonymous said...

Fair points, all, about Neff. Yes, they did eventually publish the column, and no, it was not the reason she left. But it seems that Sherm lied about it, too. He said in that Norm column it was because of the endorsement that it was held. But that's not true. It was because Neff was endorsing a Democrat. So everybody gets their say but Neff? Maybe that was what eventually convinced him to run it, but the point is, he shouldn't have to be convinced! He should let writers paid for their opinions share their opinions, and he shouldn't lie about it if they're censored. Newspaper editors aren't supposed to lie.

But he ran the piece (with some editing?) eventually, so I guess it's no big?


I don't think we'll ever know what actually happened here, but the R-J's op-ed pages generally tend to have a fair mixture of views with which the editorial board and publisher disagree. And they published Neff's column for five years -- and have had other liberal columnists from time to time including Geoff Schumacher -- so I don't know that we can deduce that there's been an ongoing censuring of dissenting opinions in this publication. Really, there's plenty to criticize about the R-J. This seems petty.