Moment investigation: Sheldon Adelson's growing media influence

WASHINGTON – A Moment Magazine investigation into the media holdings of philanthropist and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has found that he uses his papers in Israel and Nevada to try to sway public opinion in favor of his political views and business interests.

Moment’s 5,500-word analysis in its July/August issue comes on the tenth anniversary of Adelson’s launch of Israel Hayom, a paper that changed the course of Israeli politics, moving that country further to the right and dramatically shifting its media landscape. In late 2015, he purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a deal that was initially kept secret. Moment’s story examines what Adelson’s papers have been up to during that time.

“Sheldon Adelson funds the very popular Birthright program among other causes, so he is a well-known figure in the American Jewish community,” said editor-in-chief Nadine Epstein, who co-authored the story with senior editor Wesley Pippert, former UPI bureau chief in Israel and the Missouri Journalism School’s Washington Program Director Emeritus.

“Adelson is a major player in conservative politics with a very specific agenda on Israel, against a two-state solution and for expanded settlements,” said Pippert. “He’s used to having a lot of influence through his political contributions and he’s now using the media to expand that influence.”

In Israel, Adelson has had strong often-criticized ties to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; in Las Vegas, he has opposed online gambling and legal marijuana.

While other billionaires have purchased media outlets, Moment’s analysis shows a shift from more traditional editorial control to determining what stories are covered and by whom.

“It’s not like paper owners haven’t done things like this in the past,” former Review-Journal Deputy Editor James Wright says in the story. “But with Adelson, it’s on steroids.”

Adelson’s purchase of the Review-Journal is also a topic of the recently released Netflix documentary “Nobody Speaks: Trials of the Free Press.”

The story is now online here.

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Founded in 1975 by Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel and writer Leonard Fein, Moment is an independent magazine that covers Jewish political, cultural and religious issues. Since 2004, it has been run by editor-in-chief and CEO Nadine Epstein.