LVRJ Offers Stilted Take on New Jersey’s FOIA Wire Act Lawsuit v DOJ

Sometimes, it’s not too hard to envision a publisher or senior editor with a loaded shotgun pressed up against a feature writer’s demanding that a story be written just so, to avoid angering the multi-billionaire owner who’s writing the paychecks. The latest example: a well-written crock of shit served up by the Las Vegas Review-Journal about the State of New Jersey’s lawsuit against the US Department of Justice over the DOJ’s failure to respond to a legal Freedom of Information (FOIA) request from the state for documentation and communications related to the DOJ’s recent Wire Act reversal opinion, which if left unchallenged threatens interstate online poker being legalized across the US.

Flushdraw’s Dan Katz published the latest on the FOIA lawsuit a short while ago. That piece offers an accurate overview of the latest developments while reminding our readers that the Wire Act reversal opinion, as with years of RAWA legislative skullduggery, are all the work of the heinous Sheldon Adelson, CEO of Las Vegas Sands, Inc.

Which brings us to the high farce foisted upon the public in the Review-Journal‘s take on the NJ lawsuit. It’s an important story, this lawsuit, enough so that the LVRJ has to report something about it, but there’s this little problem: Adelson purchased the paper a couple of years back precisely for the purpose of forcing it to censor viewpoints on certain key topics that run counter to his financial interests.

It was therefore quite interesting to see what the paper’s take on New Jersey’s FOIA lawsuit would be. It’s a rather skillful take at that, served up by the LVRJ‘s Richard N. Velotta. Still, the signs of a top-down orchestration of this story are evident if one knows where and how to look.

First, there’s the whole Adelson angle itself. Undisclosed communications between the DOJ and Adelson’s well-funded legal minions are the very essence of the lawsuit filed by New Jersey’s Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal. Yet Adelson doesn’t even rate a mention in the LVRJ piece until below both the virtual fold and a video inset (also misleading) designed to block as many eyes and minds as possible from realizing this is all Uncle Shelly’s game.

Sure, there’s a disclosure at the bottom that Adelson owns the rag — there literally had to be such — but it’s all buried beneath fluff such as neither Adelson nor Las Vegas Sands, Inc. being among the “67 supporters” of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG). Of course, this is because Adelson and LVSands aren’t “supporters” at all, but are instead CSIG’s founding and funding entities. That’s a wee bit of a misdirection designed to make the less-knowledgeable think that maybe Adelson is innocent of what amounts to corrupting the DOJ.

As if.

Then there’s that video inset, which offers this: “The 1961 Wire Act prohibited the use of interstate telephone betting.” Notice what’ missing? That would be the word “sports” in front of betting, which is again the very nut of the revised and reversed opinions about the Wire Act’s reach. The LVRJ is telling Nevada and the world that it’s all betting that’s so banned, and that’s somewhere between an open question and an outright lie. You be the judge.

Then there’s the skipping of the meat — in this case, the LVRJ writer not detailing the circumstances that led to New Jersey filing its action. Velotta chooses — maybe at gunpoint — to serve up a couple of quotes from NJAG Grewal’s statement that don’t exactly define the situation.

More telling, though, are excerpts from New Jersey’s lawsuit itself, which was hyperlinked within Grewal’s press release. For instance, there was this specificity regarding Adelson’s involvement:

Several press reports have linked the DOJ’s reversal of its legal interpretation of the Wire Act to lobbying by a major Republican campaign contributor. See, e.g., “Justice Department’s Reversal on Online Gambling Tracked Memo From Adelson Lobbyists,” The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 18, 2019); “Justice Department issues new opinion that could further restrict online gambling,” The Washington Post (Jan. 14, 2019) (citing $113 million Adelson family gave to support Republicans in the 2016 election cycle, including $20 million to back President Trump’s campaign); “Adelson Suspected in Interfering with DoJ’s Decision on Wire Act,” Gambling News (Feb. 11, 2019). Media reports cited to, among other things, a specific memoranda provided by “an Adelson-backed lobbying team” that the Government acknowledged had reached the OLC. See “Justice Department decision to issue legal opinion long sought by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson draws criticism,” The Washington Post (Feb. 7, 2019).

And this, concerning the DOJ’s stonewalling of the FOIA request, which has gone unanswered for several months:

By failing to provide documents responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA request within the statutorily mandated time period, DOJ has violated its duties under FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552, including but not limited to its duties to conduct a reasonable search for responsive records, to take reasonable steps to release all reasonable segregable nonexempt information, and to not withhold responsive records.

The LVRJ has once again proven itself as the news outlet where the truth goes to die, at least with anything connected to Sheldon Adelson.

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