Thursday, June 18, 2009

This week's LVW col: A Fine Restraint on Gans

Here's a piece that's sure to make a certain angry, delusional, thoroughly discredited kook out there go NUTS, which I admit I will enjoy immensely and can't wait to see what histrionics result. Don't know what I mean? Ah, well, you're not missing much. But, seriously, I am quite proud that the Vegas press didn't devolve into the gutter universe that could easily have devoured coverage of the Danny Gans story and so I said so. Enjoy. -sf

A Fine Restraint
By not going tabloid on the Danny Gans story, the Vegas media distinguished itself


In New York and Los Angeles, when a major star drops dead of unknown causes, there is a repulsive ritual that takes place. A certain breed of journalist will begin a vigil outside the deceased’s residence, will rifle through their trash, will bribe all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons and will call up anyone and everyone even questionably related to the person for even the most unlikely comment.

In Las Vegas, when left to our own devices, we do things a little differently. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier about that.

Danny Gans’ death provided an intriguing case study of that difference because of his strange status as this massive, mega-wealthy star whose fame essentially ceased to exist beyond the county limits. As I wrote some weeks ago in this space, I was on the front lines of trying to get someone beyond Las Vegas to take interest after Gans’ wife found him unresponsive early on May 1.

The national press noted the death with a minimum of interest and then moved on, even as questions remained in the air about what killed the impressionist following an inconclusive autopsy. Even the tabloid media only dabbled in it vaguely, owing probably to paltry interest;’s few postings on the Gans matter drew just a couple dozen comments, most of them from people wondering who Gans was. A typical Perez post draws hundreds of responses.

This left the Las Vegas media to tackle the matter without the influence of outside forces. And so there was no vigil at the Gans household, nobody got bribed, and his widow and children were left to attend to their grief.

It’s not that journalists here didn’t want to know and report what had happened to Gans. It was that nothing we could report could be concrete, backed up by any data. Reporters were stuck in a holding pattern until the toxicology reports were completed, because absent of an official report by the scientists analyzing Gans’ remains, no amount of speculation could be credible or based in fact.

Oh sure, we could have traded in rumors. That’s undoubtedly what would have happened had Gans been a star whose death became a national obsession. But even then, it wouldn’t have been the legitimate media airing theories and conjecture, it would’ve been unrestrained talking heads on cable TV and some breathless tabloid hacks.

Read the rest HERE


David said...

Very nicely said. Thanks for being a voice of reason.

Alicia said...

The nutcase you're talking about thinks it's an "exclusive" to report on an article that's been published. If that's what you're up again, I think you're doing just fine. Nice to see you in the Times again today, btw. Didn't I read that your editors were mad at you? Hmmm...LOL

Branden in Vegas said...

Steve: I think you've gotten a little bit too emotional in all of this because all of the absolutely ridiculous things that your nemesis has said about you. I do think the Vegas media should've been harder on this if only for Danny Gans' sake. And I also see what you're saying. But I feel like this piece was written to respond to the crazies so here's a quick lesson for you: You can never, never, never satisfy crazy people. And rational people can spot a crazy person from miles away. So just keep doing what you do and doing it well. I hope this is the last time you respond to that crap. It's beneath you.

Warren said...

When I first heard Danny Gans had died, I thought, "Ut oh, here comes the tabloids." I, too, am so pleased it never came to that.

Michael said...

While I'm not in the kook's camp. And I understand your point about the Vegas media not going tabloid over it. I think you are leaving out some important parts of the situation.

1. This is typical for Vegas media, skeletons in the closet whether imaginary or real aren't reported by the Vegas media as a whole. Negative happenings for casinos, performers, and incidents that happen are not in most cases reported on to their fullest extent. So in many cases this could be construed as business as usual for the Vegas media, rather then some ethical act by the newpapers.

2. The issue isn't that significant. While being in Vegas I'm sure the impact was higher, Vegas celebrities are essentially small time entertainers that are worth a line of text in a National publication when something happens. Combine that with number 1 and there isn't a reason for the Vegas media to pursue it in a tabloid manner. Without anyone outside of Vegas really caring about the reasons for his death, there's no incentive to pursue the details.

3. I think both of the above points have merit based on the fact that there were significant questions that arose after the autopsy and there really hasn't been much discussion past those results.

I'm not saying that the Vegas media should have done investigative reporting before the results were reported and in truth I'm not even concerned that the results seem to indicate something underhanded that were going on. If Mr. Gans was doing something illegal he paid the ultimate price for it and it's sad. The only angle left would be the Drs. that may or may not have provided valid descriptions. Which isn't that interesting a story though is it?

R-J Guy said...


Seeing how the Sun got a Pulitzer for taking on workplace safety at MGM Mirage's CityCenter and the R-J has lost all of its Harrah's advertising and distribution because of its efforts to investigate construction flaws and permit problems, it's a little hard to understand how anyone could say that the local press is in anyone's pockets. There are countless examples of the media taking on the powers that be in this city and state, but any time some story is handled in a way that someone doesn't like, the old cannard that the press is covering up for the casinos/its advertisers is trotted out. Since MGM Mirage and Harrah's are the two largest private employers in the state, it's hard to make this case.

P.S. to Steve: He Who Shall Not Be Named has hijacked my alias. I'm sure you know that -- it's really so obvious to anyone except the total wacko himself -- but I wanted to make sure it's clear for when he leaves a predictable "he's not R-J Guy, I'm R-J Guy" comment here.

briguyx said...

Steve, I think you would agree that precise language is important to journalism. Therefore, I want to point out that Heath ledger certainly did not sell his self-destruction in any way himself to gain publicity. That's what the cockroaches that you detest so much did...

R-J Guy said...


He's not the R-J Guy.




I just allowed this last comment because it was predicted so clearly by the other poster. Also, I wanted to show folks why I'm moderating comments these days, because this is the crazy blather that a certain "wacko nutcase kook" has been trying to post here sometimes twice or three times a day for the past 7 weeks. If that's not the definition of insane and obsessive, I don't know what is.


Briguyx: You're right. Heath was a poor example. Britney, Amy Winehouse, maybe even Lindsay Lohan would've been better examples. Fair enough.

Michael said...

R-J Guy,

If my post came across as the media were in their pockets then I apologize. I don't believe that to be the case. I do believe there is a tendency to play down issues that can have a negative impact on tourism. And I'm not even saying it's a bad thing, it's the town's bread and butter. To the construction and CC issues, those stories were justified and well done, but likely had little impact on the tourism.

Is there a lot of follow-up from the shooting at NYNY, or at the area around Margaritaville, or some of the other violent incidents that have happened in the last two years. Not so much from what I've seen. (again I'm no expert on Vegas media, but I do look at the online papers and read a number of blogger that are local).

I'm not saying the Vegas media did anything wrong with what happened with Danny Gans while the autopsy results were being determined, but I wouldn't give them kudos either.

Michael said...

Thought of this discussion, when reading David McKee's blog today: I saw him post about a story the local papers did not publish.

While not necessarily the local papers intentionally not reporting on a story such as this, it is interesting that the local media didn't have anything on this story: