Sheldon Adelson does not own the Las Vegas Review-Journal, according to the newspaper’s lawyer, Randall Jones, The Las Vegas Sun reports.
This is despite the paper printing a disclaimer stating “The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson” after every article that references Adelson or Las Vegas Sands.
Jones was addressing Clark County District Judge Timothy Williams in the latest hearing of a civil case brought by the Sun against the R-J. The lawsuit accuses Adelson, his son-in-law, LVS CFO Patrick Dumont, and the R-J of violating antitrust laws by allegedly trying to put the Sun out of business and achieve a newspaper monopoly in Nevada.
On Tuesday, Jones argued that Adelson and Dumont should be exempt from providing electronic documents requested by the Sun’s lawyers because “we haven’t identified who the owners are of the R-J.”
“It is my general understanding that Mr. Adelson is not an owner of the R-J,” Jones added.
This prompted the Sun to declare in its reporting Tuesday that if this were the case, “the R-J has been guilty of misleading its readers.”
R-J Carries Sun
The Sun’s lawyers hope the electronic documents in question will confirm their suspicion that Adelson and Dumont were behind the decision to redesign the R-J’s print edition in a way that reduced the Sun’s splash on the front page, in which it promotes its content.
Since 1989, the two publications have operated under a 50-year joint operating agreement (JOA), authorized by the federal Newspaper Preservation Act (NPA).
This legislation allowed newspapers in the same market to share production and distribution costs, provided they remained competitive and editorially independent of one another.
The Sun is distributed as a section of the R-J. It believes, by reducing the size of the splash, R-J is in violation of the JOA.
R-J recently sued to extricate itself from the JOA, claiming it was the Sun that was in breach of contract, a move the Sun’s lawyers called “baseless and unlawful.”
The Sun believes R-J wants out because it knows tearing up the JOA would bury the smaller newspaper, which is economically dependent on the R-J.
Jones asserted Tuesday that “neither Mr. Adelson nor Mr. Dumont attended any meetings related to the Sun box redesign,” because they are not R-J employees.
“They are third parties,” he added, as reported by the Sun. “There’s another entity, News+Media, so, technically, I think there would have to be a subpoena to that entity. I’m happy to have a meeting to look at this and see what evidence they have to show that Mr. Adelson or Mr. Dumont are implicated in the redesign of the Sun box.”
The mysterious News+Media acquired R-J in December 2015. It required the sleuthing of the R-J’s own reporters to discover the identity of their new boss and splash the news across the front page: the Adelson family was now pulling the strings.