The Locker Room

August 30, 2009

Sleep with dog, get fleas

Posted by Rick Henderson at 2:36 PM

In his weekly column, Sherman Frederick, publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (where I worked from 2000-04),  recounts this comment earlier this week from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to Bob Brown, the paper's head of advertising, before a Chamber of Commerce luncheon:

[A]s Bob shook hands with our senior U.S. senator in what should have been nothing but a gracious business setting, Reid said: "I hope you go out of business."

Frederick saw the remark as a direct threat. After all, Reid and the libertarian-leaning editorial page of Nevada's largest newspaper have had a rocky relationship for years, as noted in this 2002 profile of Reid from my friend and former R-J colleague Steve Sebelius, who now edits City Life, the lefty alt-weekly in Vegas. The main charge launched by the paper's editorials (with regularity) is that, to stoke his personal and partisan ambitions, Reid has gone native in D.C., neglecting the leave-us-alone philosophy so many Nevadans hold dear.

Politico suggested Reid may have been exercising his "Mojave dry sense of humor," but I've always known him to be a dour sort who didn't joke around. (For at least a decade, he carried around a copy of a 1993 R-J editorial in which the paper claimed the Democrats' tax hikes would lead to a recession. He'd pull it out and wave it at us whenever we'd have an editorial board meeting.)

Reid's comments should be a wake-up call, though, for those in the media (including Dan Rather) who welcome wider government involvement with the media -- in any capacity.

Even though many media types may be sympathetic to activist government, the public officials aren't your friends. Harry Reid may have simply been honest about this point.

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