Publisher has hissy fit over former columnist receiving Hall of Fame honor

In one of the most petty, petulant and pusillanimous acts of perfidy in the annals of alleged journalism, the publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal has resigned from the board of directors of the Nevada Press Association in a fit of pique over longtime newspaper columnist John L. Smith being named to the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, according to sources.

The announcement of Smith’s well deserved and frankly overdue induction into the Hall of Fame officially came during the NPA awards banquet in Mesquite Saturday night. Publisher Craig Moon’s resignation from the board came the day before. He reportedly did not attend the banquet, though few would have recognized him if he had.

Smith, who has written a general interest column four or five days a week for more than 30 years at the Review-Journal, about 5,500 columns, resigned earlier this year after being told he could not write about two of the most significant characters in the Las Vegas gaming industry — Sheldon Adelson, now owner of the newspaper, and casino executive Steve Wynn, both of whom had unsuccessfully sued Smith for libel over passages in two of the 15 books he has written.

Smith was among a handful of writers at the Las Vegas newspaper who unearthed the identity of Adelson as the paper’s new owner in December. That enterprise contributed to one of the newspaper’s awards Saturday night. Adelson heads the Las Vegas Sands hotel and casino operation and is a generous donor to Republican political candidates. All the reporters who unearthed Adelson as the new owner have since left the paper. At least two of them won writing awards in the NPA annual contest.

In the resignation letter that he left on the desks of fellow staffers, Smith wrote, “I learned many years ago about the importance of not punching down in weight class. You don’t hit ‘little people’ in this craft, you defend them. In Las Vegas, a quintessential company town, it’s the blowhard billionaires and their political toadies who are worth punching. And if you don’t have the freedom to call the community’s heavyweights to account, then that ‘commentary’ tag isn’t worth the paper on which it’s printed. … If a Las Vegas columnist is considered ‘conflicted’ because he’s been unsuccessfully sued by two of the most powerful and outspoken players in the gaming industry, then it’s time to move on.”

Adelson’s suit said Smith’s book “Sharks in the Desert” made false implications that he “was associated with unsavory characters and unsavory activities.”

Adelson asked that the libel case against Smith be dismissed when Smith’s attorney, Don Campbell, obtained confidential Gaming Control Board records. “In short, Adelson’s claims were about to be exposed for what they were … false and vindictive,” Campbell said at the time. Though he prevailed, the litigation forced Smith into bankruptcy.

Wynn sued when an ad for “Running Scared,” an ad Smith did not write, said the book ”details why a confidential Scotland Yard report calls Wynn a front man for the Genovese crime family.”

The book itself reported that the New Scotland Yard report was “not entirely accurate” and was politically motivated and largely based on investigative efforts of U.S. authorities who did not reach the same conclusion. Smith eventually was dismissed as a defendant and the publisher of the book reached an undisclosed settlement.

That the suits over books unrelated to his job as a columnist were dismissed for lacking merit mattered not to the new Adelson minions, who haven’t been in Las Vegas long enough to learn what the word “juice” means, though they certainly kowtow to those who have it.



17 comments on “Publisher has hissy fit over former columnist receiving Hall of Fame honor

  1. Steve says:

    Success is the best revenge.

    The RJ is nothing in comparison to what it used to be.
    My adblocker shows a very large number of background ads on that site and when turned off and anti malware disabled, the ads take the webrowser to domains chock full of phishing, virus and baiting sites.
    They are so hungry for money they are fully willing to put their readers at risk of being atacked by some of the darkest things found on the WWW.

  2. Seagull says:

    A friend who has a computer servicing company told me a couple of days ago that he gets frequent calls from people whose computers pick up viruses from the R-J website. He told me he had to clean up one customer’s computer twice in two days.

  3. Seagull says:

    The R-J has a special place in my heart from having worked there for almost two decades. Unfortunately, in my opinion, ethics questions are rapidly separating it from what constitutes a legitimate newspaper. I take no pleasure in saying this. Also, it seems to me, similar ethics issues are plaguing much of journalism today.

  4. Thomas Dye says:

    Mitch, Your commentary on the situation was excellent. I miss John’s column and deplore the situation at the Review-Journal. I worked at the paper for 36 years and never believed it would come to this. John’s column was always a pleasure to read. He mixed fearless commentary with a wry sense of humor.

  5. Steve says:

    It’s an ugly site, Seagull. When any of those pop ups show on your monitor, use the windows shortcut CTRL, SHIFT, ESC to open the task manager. Then end the (browser) task shown, end the top instance to prevent opening the links that may drop those malwares on your device.
    Run Adblocker to prevent those ads from getting to your machine in the first place.
    But the RJ has another problem, the only browser that seems to function is IE11 (with adblocker installed) Every other browser I try just locks up and crashes on the main RJ site.
    My suggestion works, I have zero reported malware, virus or other nasty’s on my system.
    Another option for reading the RJ is to use the mobile site link.

  6. Athos says:

    John L Smith wrote an excellent book on the life of Steve Wynn (back in 1990?). Most of his views were center left to wacky left, as I see them, but he definitely deserves “hall of fame” status.
    We still get the RJ delivered cause my wife likes reading it. I think the only thing I look at is the Sports section.
    Thanks for the article, Tom. I miss you guys!

  7. Debra McGuire says:

    Thanks, Steve, good advice.

  8. nyp says:

    Today’s Second Amendment Moment: seven shot at Houston shopping mall.

  9. Athos says:

    petey! Them guns are ba-a-a-a-d, aren’t they boy? (Was the gun’s user a Muslim? Nah, couldn’t be!)

  10. nyp says:

    what an appropriate moment for “athos” to reemerge. A classic Athos comment.

    “ABC News has learned that two guns and Nazi materials were found at the scene. ABC13 has confirmed that the Nazi materials found inside the car registered to DeSai.”

    Good thing it wasn’t terrorism.

  11. Steve says:

    Houston shooter, disgruntled lawyer.

    Good one, nyp!

  12. Steve says:

    As an I.T. person, I say glad I could help, Debra!

  13. Athos says:

    “The suspect was described as a black male wearing dark clothing, and that he was armed with several weapons, according to eyewitnesses.
    and to wrap it up……

    “The shooting comes days after a shooting at a Washington state mall left five people dead. On Sept. 17, a Muslim refugee stabbed 10 people at a Minnesota mall before being shot to death by an off-duty police officer.”

    Anybody else just about tired of this insanity?

    I wonder if there’s any politician that has a solution?

    “Paging Donald Trump” Paging Donald Trump. Please pick up the white courtesy phone…..

  14. nyp says:

    It is a measure of just how deranged “Athos” and conservatives like him really are that he still believes that Nathan DeSari, the Nazi-loving protagonist of yesterday’s Second Amendment moment, was black. Or Muslim. Or a black Muslim.

    But that’s how Athos rolls. He makes Donald Trump seem coherent.

  15. Rincon says:

    Nice to hear from you, Athos. I hope all is well.

    Muslim or right winger, a terrorist is a terrorist. I firmly believe that part of the answer is to stop obsessing about it as a society. The publicity feeds it. In addition, the number of deaths is relatively small. A total of 71 Americans have been killed by terrorists in the last decade according to Politifact – 24 by jihadists and 47 by nonjihadists, (mostly right wingers, I believe). Although all 71 deaths are tragic, compare that to the 301,000 domestic gun related deaths and a similar number in auto accidents. We’re focusing on ants and ignoring elephants.

    A second part of the answer is to stop dealing with most Middle Eastern countries. They are the source of much of the problem in addition to a host of military conflicts. If we just get out of their faces, they will set upon killing each other.

    Thirdly, immigration policy needs work. Am I wrong or is it suddenly fashionable for western countries to take in refugees in large numbers? I don’t remember very many Palestinian or African refugees from past conflicts coming to our countries. Refugees need to repopulate their home country. There are other aspects of immigration policy that also need work,

  16. […] from the board of directors of the Nevada Press Association in what ex- RJ editor Thomas Mitchell described as “one of the pettiest, petulant and pusillanimous acts of perfidy in the annals of alleged […]

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