Harry Reid: Just Kidding About Wanting Paper to Go Under
No doubt these are tough times for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, what with a new Nevada newspaper poll showing him lagging behind his 2010 Republican challengers. But Reid says he was wasn't venting anger at the press when he told an advertising executive at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "I hope you go out of business."
Reid's comment before the start of his speech last week to the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce has created a firestorm in Vegas political circles.
The conservative-leaning Review-Journal editors are apoplectic over the perceived threat, but Reid and political reporters at the editorially liberal Las Vegas Sun (owned by Reid's friend, Brian Greenspun), think the Review-Journal ought to lighten up.
"Clearly he wasn't serious," Reid spokesman Jim Manley says. "Once again, the editors at the Review-Journal got it wrong."
The publisher of the Review-Journal, Sherman Frederick, penned a scathing editorial on Sunday titled "Enough is enough, Harry. Stop the childish bullying." Frederick depicted Reid as a menacing mobster, calling the senator's comment a "full-on threat perpetrated by a bully who has forgotten that he was elected to office to protect Nevadans, not sound like he's shaking them down."
Nevada's leading political reporter, Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun, countered that Frederick's "ridiculous rant" was "garbage."
Ralston wrote that Frederick's editorial was nothing more than "an effective, if transparent, marketing gimmick," adding that "I suppose it is possible he actually believes what he wrote, even a more frightening proposition."
Ralston tells The Sleuth he can't imagine anyone in Nevada politics not understanding that Reid was joking to the Review-Journal ad exec. "It's just so typical of Harry Reid's humor to say something like 'I hope you go out of business.'"
Indeed, Reid does have a penchant of saying whatever comes to mind. He once called President George W. Bush "a loser." He called Justice Clarence Thomas "an embarrassment," and blasted former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan as "one of the biggest political hacks we have here in Washington."
No dispute about it, Ralston says, Reid's poll numbers are "horrible." But knowing the senator as well as he does, Ralston says Reid isn't the type to take polling seriously, especially poll numbers released in August of 2009 involving a race to take place in November of 2010. He says there's zero chance Reid was seriously threatening the Review-Journal and he can't imagine the paper's editors truly perceived Reid's comment to be a threat.
"I find it unfathomable that anyone would think Harry Reid was not joking," Ralston said.
A new poll conducted by the Review-Journal shows Reid losing to either of the top two emerging Republican challengers if the election were held today.
Not a good situation for Reid. But Republicans still lack a clear viable candidate and Reid, as of the end of June, had $7.3 million cash on hand.
Mary Ann Akers
September 1, 2009; 2:14 PM ET
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