Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center loves to rant about billionaires being involved in media -- when they're liberal, anyway. See, for example, the MRC's outrage that Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos is merely permitted to appear on TV.
Conservative billionaires, however, get a free pass, if not an outright defense. Which brings us to MRC official Tim Graham's Dec. 29 NewsBusters post regarding right-wing financier Sheldon Adelson's purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Graham isn't outraged that Adelson did so, mind you; he's outraged that the New York Times is reporting on the purchase.
Graham sneers that "The New York Times is transparently panicking about republican-backing billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s secretive purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal" -- though he never explains just what what was "secretive" about it. As the Times article noted, the Adelson family bought the Las Vegas paper through a shell company, and its executive refused to identify the owners until the paper's reporters unraveled the mystery.
After quoting the Times noting other newspaper-owning billionaires including Bezos and John Henry, owner of the Boston Globe, Graham huffed: "The Times thinks liberal billionaires buying newspapers and keeping them liberal is 'beneficial to the publications' and not to 'advance their personal agendas,' as if a liberal keeping a newspaper liberal isn’t a personal benefit." But Graham offers no evidence that either those owners or their papers are "liberal," however much that belief is apparently axiomatic at the MRC offices.
Graham also huffed at the Times' noting suspicions that Adelson bought the paper to "promote his political allies and protect his extensive gambling interests in Las Vegas," sneering thatit's only "liberal observers" who say so and that the Sulzberger family, which controls the Times, is doing exact same thing in the Times for its allegedly "liberal" beliefs. But Graham does not show that the Sulzbergers do not have the same financial interests in New York City (or anywhere else, for that matter) that Adelson has in Las Vegas, making Graham's argument a non-starter.
Graham is careful to omit the actual things that have caused concern about Adelson's ownership of the paper, as reported by the Times:
Also, while Mr. Adelson’s family was in talks to buy The Review-Journal, three of its reporters were asked to start monitoring three Nevada judges — one of whom is overseeing a lawsuit against Mr. Adelson. Subsequently, a small Connecticut paper owned by Mr. Schroeder, The New Britain Herald, published a critical article about the judge that appeared to use fabricated quotations and had the byline of a person who does not appear to exist.
Graham also failed to mention another piece of evidence that Adelson plans to use the Las Vegas paper for his own propaganda purposes: what he paid for it. As the Times noted, "Mr. Adelson’s family paid $140 million for The Review-Journal, a steep price given that The Review-Journal and a group of other publications was sold only nine months earlier for $102.5 million."
Graham concludes by stating:
Eric Fettman of the New York Post notes on his Facebook page: “You know, for all the furor over Sheldon Adelson buying the Las Vegas paper and not disclosing he'd done so, it's happened before. The successful bidder here didn't reveal himself until two weeks later. He was Eugene Meyer, father of Katharine Graham.” He bought The Washington Post in 1933 for $825,000.
What Fettman and Graham don't mention: Meyer purchased the Post in a bankruptcy auction, and the disclosure of him as the buyer waited 12 days until court confirmation of the sale, which seems prudent. So the circumstances werew far different from Adelson's purchase of the Review-Journal, which was not in bankruptcy.
Fettman and Graham also fail to mention that upon the announcement of his ownership, Meyer issued a statement that the paper would be run independently "to squash rumors that he planned to make The Post a mouthpiece for his Republican Party or for some Republican candidate."
Had there been an MRC around in 1933, Graham would probably have approved.