Sheldon Adelson, Billionaire Donor to G.O.P. and Israel, Is Dead at 87

by 24USATVJan. 13, 2021, 8 a.m. 26
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Mr. Adelson set off another flap in December 2015 when he bought The Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada’s biggest newspaper, for $140 million, using a shell company to hide his involvement. When he was revealed as the buyer by his own newspaper, questions were raised about whether he would interfere with its journalistic independence. His family pledged that the paper would be “fair, unbiased and accurate,” but the editor and some staff members took a buyout and resigned. The Review-Journal was reportedly the only major newspaper in the nation to endorse Mr. Trump for president.

In succeeding months, the new ownership brought financial muscle to The Review-Journal, enabling it to hire personnel and upgrade equipment. But the newsroom was roiled by tensions between top editors on the one hand, who saw it as part of their job to review coverage of Mr. Adelson and his family and business affairs, and, on the other, news staff members who chafed at what they regarded as inappropriate interference. A longtime columnist who had filed for bankruptcy in 2007 while defending himself against an Adelson libel suit was barred by management from writing about Mr. Adelson. The columnist left the paper, one of about a dozen staff members who quit or were fired during the contretemps.

In Israel, where he had a home and owned major conservative media outlets, Mr. Adelson supported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party. He opposed statehood for Palestinians, favored Israeli settlements in occupied territories and underwrote junkets to Israel by congressional Republicans.

The Israeli business news site Globes reported last year that Mr. Adelson had spent $67.7 million to buy the former U.S. ambassador’s residence in Tel Aviv. It was the largest amount paid for a home in Israeli history and appeared aimed at making it more difficult for future presidents to reverse the Trump administration’s move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in 2018.

Mr. Adelson looked like a man spoiling for a fight: short, stout and pugnacious, with sparse reddish hair and a puffy pale face that reddened easily. Unions, reporters and associates he considered disloyal incurred his wrath. He kept bodyguards and lawyers close.

Mr. Adelson began his rise in 1979, when he and four partners started a Las Vegas computer trade show called Comdex. Years before computers proliferated in households, the show drew sellers and buyers to see the latest technology in a field that was growing exponentially. In the 1980s and ’90s, it was the nation’s top computer exhibition, and Mr. Adelson made $500 million from its sale.

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