Thursday, December 17, 2015

Last Call For Shelly's World

No surprise that the mystery buyer behind the recent purchase of Nevada's biggest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is none other than GOP megadonor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

The son-in-law of billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson arranged the $140 million purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Adelson's behalf, sources confirmed Wednesday.

Patrick Dumont, who is listed on the website of Las Vegas Sands Corp. as the company's senior vice president of finance and strategy, put together the deal at the behest of his father-in-law, the chairman and CEO of the casino operator.

Dumont, a 41-year-old from New York, in 2009 married Sivan Ochshorn, a daughter of Adelson's wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, from a prior marriage. Sivan Ochshorn Dumont runs the Israel Hayom, which is owned by the casino mogul.

"He (Dumont) handles all the investments for the family," said a source close to the Adelsons who was not authorized to speak on behalf of the family.

Another source familiar with the deal said Sheldon Adelson, 15th on the Forbes 400 List of Billionaires with a net worth of $24.5 billion, funded the transaction. Dumont helped create News + Media Capital Group LLC, which acquired the Review-Journal and several smaller Nevada newspapers last week from New Media Investment Corp.

A source said Dumont also led Adelson's previous attempt to acquire the Review-Journal from former owner Stephens Media LLC before the February sale to New Media Investment. He could not be reached for comment. Sivan Ochshorn Dumont, reached at the couple's Las Vegas home, hung up before answering a reporter's questions Wednesday.

Adelson, meanwhile, broke several days of silence on the newspaper purchase late Tuesday night, telling CNN media reporter Brian Stelter only that he has "no personal interest" in the RJ's new owner.

Fortune magazine on Wednesday cited "multiple sources familiar with the situation" in reporting Adelson was the newspaper's "primary buyer."

Michael Reed, CEO of New Media Investment Corp., did not respond to repeated calls for comment.

Nothing new with the richest people in America buying newspapers, after all Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought a far larger paper in the Washington Post, but Bezos was up front about it from day one, and answered questions about how the paper would treat his financial and corporate interests as part of the very public and well-covered sales process.  It hasn't been 100% smooth, but Bezos never attempted to hide or go through intermediaries, and he certainly isn't enmeshed in politics in the way Adelson is.

We'll see how this goes as far as affecting Nevada politics.

The Worst Reporters Of 2015

The New York Times is in the middle of a real problem now, as Kevin Drum notes, the same journalists who gave us "Hillary is the target of a criminal probe!" are the same Village Idiots behind "Obama failed to stop social media jihadis in San Bernardino!"

So where did this notion come from, anyway? The answer is a New York Times story on Sunday headlined "U.S. Visa Process Missed San Bernardino Wife's Zealotry on Social Media." It told us that Tashfeen Malik "talked openly" on social media about jihad and that, "Had the authorities found the posts years ago, they might have kept her out of the country." The story was written by Matt Apuzzo, Michael Schmidt, and Julia Preston.

Do those names sound familiar? They should. The first two were also the authors of July's epic fail claiming that Hillary Clinton was the target of a criminal probe over the mishandling of classified information in her private email system. In the end, virtually everything about the story turned out to be wrong. Clinton was not a target. The referral was not criminal. The emails in question had not been classified at the time Clinton saw them.

Assuming Comey is telling the truth, that's two strikes. Schmidt and Apuzzo either have some bad sources somewhere, or else they have one really bad source somewhere. And coincidentally or not, their source(s) have provided them with two dramatic but untrue scoops that make prominent Democrats look either corrupt or incompetent. For the time being, Schmidt and Apuzzo should be considered on probation. That's at least one big mistake too many.

The real issue is that the Gray Lady is getting "scoops" that are 100% false, that all happen to help the GOP advance its agenda, fed through the same reporters.

It's not like that hasn't happened before or anything, guys.  Seems like there may be some exciting new career options soon for Apuzzo and Schmidt, ya know?

Marty, McFried

Looks like somebody finally knocked the smirk off Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli's face: The Feds.

A boyish drug company entrepreneur, who rocketed to infamy by jacking up the price of a life-saving pill from $13.50 to $750, was arrested by federal agents at his Manhattan home early Thursday morning on securities fraud related to a firm he founded. 
Martin Shkreli, 32, ignited a firestorm over drug prices in September and became a symbol of defiant greed. The federal case against him has nothing to do with pharmaceutical costs, however. Prosecutors in Brooklyn charged him with illegally taking stock from Retrophin Inc., a biotechnology firm he started in 2011, and using it to pay off debts from unrelated business dealings. He was later ousted from the company, where he’d been chief executive officer, and sued by its board. 
In the case that closely tracks that suit, federal prosecutors accused Shkreli of engaging in a complicated shell game after his defunct hedge fund, MSMB Capital Management, lost millions. He is alleged to have made secret payoffs and set up sham consulting arrangements. A New York lawyer, Evan Greebel, was also arrested early Thursday. He's accused of conspiring with Shkreli in part of the scheme. 
Shkreli’s lawyer and a spokesman for Retrophin didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Greebel and his firm weren’t immediately available to comment either. A spokeswoman for Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers did not immediately respond to a call and e-mail seeking comment. 
Shkreli’s extraordinary history—and current hold on the public imagination—makes the case more noteworthy than most involving securities fraud. The son of immigrants from Albania and Croatia who worked as janitors and raised him deep in working-class Brooklyn, Shkreli both epitomizes the American dream and sullies it. As a youth, he showed exceptional promise and independence and, after dropping out of an elite Manhattan high school, began his conquest of Wall Street before he was 20.

I hope the SEC lawyers have a field day with this asshole and he gets the full Bernie Madoff. Couldn't have happened to a nicer aggregate colony of sentient fungus, I say.  More truth from Steve M.:

Nothing terrible happens to you in this country if you shaft ordinary people. We saw that after the financial collapse. Shaft members of the investor class, however, and you really might face the law's wrath. Ordinary schmucks aren't full citizens. Want justice? Buy financial instruments. If you can't, tough luck -- the law doesn't care what happens to you. 
Shrkeli screwed the wrong people, so I suppose he really could go to prison. However, I expect him to play the "troubled white guy" card, in court and possibly in the media. All the "bad boy" nonsense -- the incessant boasting, the taunting tweets, the $2 million purchase of that one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan CD, the claim that he seeks to bail out imprisoned rapper Bobby Shmurda and also might pursue a rap career of his own -- I predict is going to be presented in court as a textbook case of bipolar disorder, or some condition on the autistic spectrum, that impairs Shkreli's judgment and renders him less than fully liable for his own acts. 
We know that blacks arrested for violent crimes are always "thugs" and Muslims are always "terrorists," whereas even white guys who commit mass murder are "loners," "troubled" and "misunderstood." Will Shrkeli try to play the "troubled" card? It might not work, but that's what I'm betting on.

What's good, Martin?


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