Dueling columnists could be entertaining, except …

Epithets at 10 paces. Turn and fire.

First, in the pages of the Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Wayne Allyn Root took issue with MGM’s CEO Jim Murren telling his employees that the firm would match any donations they decided to make to certain groups that he apparently identified as civil rights organizations. In a letter to employees Murren noted recent violence in Charlottesville and Barcelona and stated, “In the midst of this uncertainty, I want to affirm a clear-eyed, concrete view of the company in which you have chosen to invest your career, because on the question of human rights, MGM Resorts takes and unequivocal position: The protection of human dignity, demonstrated in the form of tolerance and respect for all people, is the core of our identity. We strive to create workplaces and entertainment spaces that are welcoming, open and respectful to all kinds of people, regardless of disability, age, gender, race, ethnicity, religious preference, gender identity or sexual orientation.” (His bold face and italics.)

He listed the groups for which the company would match donations as Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, ADL, Council on American Islamic Relations and others.

Root took issue with the doling out of shareholder funds to liberal groups in general but especially with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is known for tossing out hate group labels like trinkets at a Mardi Gras parade, and the Council on American Islamic Relation, which has been pegged as the clean-faced front for Hamas.

Root blasted, “Jim Murren has gone too far. And he’s put MGM’s board, shareholders and employees in a terrible position because of his extreme, radical, reckless decisions” — without bothering to append the usual disclaimer about the newspaper’s owner, Sheldon Adelson, being both a business competitor with MGM and frequent political opponent of Murren.

Today, the putative editor of the insert inside the Review-Journal filled that gap with a diatribe. Brian Greenspun said of Root’s Thursday missive:

That day, he went after one of Sheldon’s biggest, most forward-thinking and most responsible competitors in the gaming industry. It is exactly what the gaming industry feared might happen when the news — as secret as the Adelson family tried to keep it — broke that one of the GOP’s wealthiest donors had purchased one of the two largest newspapers in Nevada. The Las Vegas Sun is the other “largest” newspaper in Nevada.

I don’t know if Sheldon knows what Root writes from one day to the next, but he should be very careful about what his minions publish in and under his name. Root and publisher Craig Moon certainly know what would please Sheldon.

Not only are Adelson and Murren competitors on the Strip but also in Macau and perhaps in Japan in the future.

Adelson is a huge Republican donor, while Murren was a card-carrying Republican for Reid and a Hillary Clinton supporter.

A couple of years ago Adelson tore into MGM and Caesars for driving down the price of rooms on the Strip and costing his Sands corporation money. Adelson personally attacked Murren for supporting a convention center expansion, which competes with Adelson’s convention center, over a new football stadium.

But perhaps the funniest thing in Greenspun’s screed was this line:

Which reminds me of one of the first lessons in newspaper publishing I learned from my father, Hank Greenspun, many decades ago — publishers have profound responsibilities to the public interest and it must always be placed before personal interest.

Hank Greenspan was notorious for pulling his newspaper like a dueling pistol to attack business competitors and political foes and to support his friends. He was virulently critical of an FBI agent who conducted a sting on certain politicians and he conducted a campaign to discredit a competitor in the cable television business.

Greenspan concludes his spiel, “Come on, Review-Journal, publish your paper in the community interest. You and your owners should be better than this.”

A little dueling between newspaper columnists could be entertaining — if they both weren’t such clowns.

Longtime newspaper rivalry continues to this day with references to the past rivalry

The photo that warranted an inside page in the Sun in 1967 but no printed page in today’s R-J.

You’ve got to love a good newspaper spat, especially one that goes back decades.

Today the Las Vegas Review-Journal has a story about how a few teenagers in 1967 hoaxed the Las Vegas Sun with a Polaroid “UFO” photo that was actually a hubcap tossed into the air. The photo warranted a screaming red, all-caps banner headline in a size they used to call a “wood,” because no one had metal type that big. The headline reads: “Mysterious flying ship ‘scouts’ Las Vegas area.”

But the photo that was the central topic of the tale ran on an inside page, while the dominant photo on the front page was one of Gov. Paul Laxalt talking at some pro-Israel function, a favorite topic of the Sun, possibly because its editor had been convicted of running guns to Israel. Next to that photo was Hank Greenspun’s “Where I Stand” column. He gave the column that name because an R-J editor once wrote a “Where I Sit” column.

Now, in my way of thinking, a photo that warranted a screaming headline on the cover screamed to be printed on the cover, but no. As for the R-J’s coverage of the hoax, it did not find that photo worthy of print, relegating the actual hoax pix that was the topic of the piece to a package of photos online.

The R-J story also noted that it was the R-J that corrected the hoax the next day:

On June 14, 1967, a mere 24 hours after the hoax had gone as viral as something could go in the ’60s, the Las Vegas Review-Journal ended it.

“The mysterious flying ship ‘scouting’ Las Vegas Monday night turned out to be a hubcap, sources close to the ‘ship’ revealed Tuesday afternoon,” the lede read.

Yes, the story uses the old typesetter’s lexicon, spelling the word “lede,” which is not in most dictionaries nor in the AP Stylebook, which I think they still use, even though they don’t subscribe to the AP service.

But two old Hank Greenspun columns delivered on the same day is a bit much. Over in the Sun section, son Brian reprinted the second of three columns from the era of the hoax by Hank. The intro by Brian includes this dig at the R-J:

The first two columns talk about the building of the MGM Hotel (now Bally’s) and the third discusses allegations of mob association that existed only in the small minds of some hoodlums and on the pages of the other newspaper in Las Vegas.

I wonder whether the third installment will mention that in 1947 Greenspun was hired by mobster Bugsy Siegel as publicist for his Flamingo Hotel or that  Greenspun wrote a column called “Flamingo Chatter” for the R-J? Will it mention his stake in the Desert Inn was reduced to 1 percent when Cleveland racketeers Morris “Moe” Dalitz, Sam Tucker and Morris Kleinman won control.

The R-J story did not mention that there were a number of UFO sightings in 1967.

Of course, I must plead guilty to having tweaked the upturned Greenspun nose a time or two myself.



Here comes the Sun, devoid of any light

Greenspun column on something that happened two weeks ago.

Greenspun column on something that happened two weeks ago.

What a steaming pile of claptrap.

Two weeks after buying out his brother and sisters — who had voted to accept an offer to cease printing the Las Vegas Sun as a section in the Las Vegas Review-Journal under a joint operating agreement (JOA) — Sun publisher and putative editor Brian Greenspun takes the banner position in his 10-page section to blather about his father. Nothing new there.

He poor mouths his way through the whole screed, saying things like: “while I am not allowed to discuss what I paid to make that deal happen, the cost was very dear.”

And in his typical ancestor worshipfulness: “Many decades ago, my father visited me in college to tell me about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This was not long after a fire had destroyed the Las Vegas Sun, the rebuilding of which caused my parents to go deeply into debt, which they had little or no chance of repaying if they expected to do it from the meager profits that the newspaper made, sometimes.”

Apparently Hank Greenspun had an offer from someone to buy the paper but he first wanted to ask his son — apparently not any of his other children, since no mention is made of them — whether he wanted to continue in the newspaper business. Brian says his answer was yes.

He makes no mention anywhere of the fast real estate deals his father made in order to build Green Valley in Henderson and become fabulously wealthy, nor of him using the newspaper to tout his friends, punish his enemies and shill for certain politicians.

At one point in the column Brian boasts, “What I now own is a company with some of the best reporters, editors, designers, salespeople and dreamers in the news industry. If the Las Vegas Sun and its sister publications survive and prosper in the coming years, it will be because of the hard work, dedication and imagination of the people who call the Greenspun Media Group home.”

This statement is on a front page, three-quarters of which is filled with a Los Angeles Times feature on development at the Grand Canyon. The only thing else on the page is a puff piece by Robin Leach about the first 100 days of operation of an oversized roller coaster on the Strip that first appeared online this past Tuesday.

The back page is a feature by a local writer about two Las Vegas performers appearing in Los Angeles that first appeared online Friday.

The rest, save two letters to the editor, is syndicated columns and features. Don’t want to work those best reporters and editors too hard now, Brian.

If I recall, the JOA gives Greenspun wide birth as to the content of the section and requires that it be delivered daily with the R-J. Short of pornography or repulsive photos of aborted fetuses, he can publish just about anything he wishes and it gets delivered to the driveway — whether it is news or not.

Perhaps his father is still waiting for him to continue in the newspaper business, since what he is doing now is certainly not the newspaper business.


Sun editor’s column connects dots that aren’t even on the same page

You’ve got to admit the Las Vegas Sun’s putative editor, Brian Greenspun, has written some quirky, illogical, fact-free tales in his column over the years, but Sunday’s off-kilter piece may take the proverbial cake. It connects some far-flung dots that aren’t anywhere near the same page and darts down a mental rabbit hole.

His lede was:

“I have heard about toothpaste bombs before.

“There is nothing funny about the deadly impact a few toothpaste bombs could have in Russia this month.”

He then proceeds to tell an odd, and some might say “funny,” story about his father’s criminal activities back in the 1940s when he was profiteering from smuggling arms to Israel. Brian tries to somehow link it to the fact airlines flying to the winter Olympics are banning liquids and gels, including toothpaste, out of fear terrorism attempts.

As Brian told it Sunday, Hank and “his dear friend, Al Schwimmer” were angling to obtain an explosive that came in the form of a white power and were trying to figure out how to smuggle it out of the country.

Then, in a story telling technique that sounds like gay porn in a steam bath, Brian relates:

“My father decided, while taking a hot, steamy shower in his New York hotel room, that he would empty the powder into toothpaste cans that were popular back in the day. And, so he did, while Al took his, hot, steamy shower.”

Never mind that tooth powder came in cans and not toothpaste, that wouldn’t fit the scenario linking modern terrorism plots to old smuggling plots. And I guess the story wouldn’t have been as compelling without that detail about a series of “hot, steamy showers.”

Those must’ve been some long showers, because the very next paragraph reads:

“Two weeks later, they learned that the scientists reverse engineered the powdery substance — it was nothing new and that the reason it was not used in modern bomb-making was because it was extremely volatile. Its volatility was greatest when there was moisture in the air!”

Though that plot fizzled, Hank Greenspun was later convicted of smuggling arms to Israel in violation of federal law. He received no jail time and was fined only $10,000, even though FBI files allege he got a 10 percent vigorish on the arms sold to Israel.

Brian concludes his meander through parental worship with this bizarre attempt at relativity:

“My dad and Al were the good guys in the story of Israel’s war on independence. This time, though, at Sochi we all know who the bad guys are. Toothpaste tubes? Explosives? We have really heard this story before.

“So, maybe this time, the bad guys will blow themselves to bits!”


Like father, like son? Not the Greenspuns

Brian Greenspun today grabs the banner spot of his newspaper insert, the Las Vegas Sun, and uses it to support Obama’s infringement on the Second Amendement.

He writes:

Hank Greenspun

“The Second Amendment, for whatever purpose our Founding Fathers saw fit, cannot ever be allowed to be the shield behind which cowards, crazy people and others just hell-bent on finding government conspiracies can hide. Not when our children are dying at their desks. …

“I don’t know if what President Obama has proposed regarding assault weapons, ammunition clips, gun show loop holes, registration of weapons, mental health and school security is enough or too much to help. What I do know is that it is a holistic approach that could very well work. At least to reduce the great majority of massacres that have become a part of our everyday lives — and deaths.”

This is the same ancestor worshiping son whose father, Hank, was convicted of gun running for purchasing artillery, machine-guns, rifles and airplane engines for a Jewish paramilitary organization.