It was a joke. Right? When Harry Reid, during a Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week, told a Review-Journal ad man, “I hope you go out of business.” Maybe not? Okay, okay. But surely it was a joke when the Senate Majority Leader said, soon after, that he wanted the R-J to continue selling advertising so he could continue to get the (decidedly more liberal) Las Vegas Sun. (Editor’s note: The Weekly and Sun are both owned by the Greenspun Corporation.)
Surely, the conservative R-J editorial page has not been a Reid supporter of late, so maybe Reid’s remark wasn’t really a joke, but one of those thinly veiled wish-fulfillment trial balloons you can float on your enemies, and then pull back behind the cover of “It’s a joke” if they can’t take one.
Certainly, the R-J’s publisher, Sherman Frederick, wasn’t in a laughing mood when he hoisted up his trousers in a column over the weekend and responded, attacking Reid’s remark as ugly, boorish and asinine—and a “full-on threat perpetrated by a bully.” He promised that the paper wouldn’t allow Reid “to bully us. And if you try it with anyone else, count on going through us first.”
Cue Woodward and Bernstein. Made you want to stand tall and start digging up the truth behind those Publisher Rendition Programs we’ve been hearing rumors of, where unsuspecting newspaper chiefs are hauled off by America’s political leaders, flown to undisclosed locations and made to watch the demise of their papers.
Oh, wait, that’s the Internet.
In an interview Monday with KNPR radio host Dave Berns, Frederick said the ad man confirmed to him later that Reid wasn’t kidding. He insisted he wasn’t being thin-skinned. Then Berns played an earlier interview of Reid disparaging Frederick: “Even among Republicans his columns are a joke.” So to speak.