Must be nice to have millions to throw away

Of course, if I did, I wouldn’t.

But Sheldon Adelson certainly does:

Washington (CNN) – In a move that could again dramatically shake up the Republican primary race, billionaire and major Republican donor Sheldon Adelson is expected to donate an additional $10 million to the super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, Winning Our Future, a source with knowledge of the donation told CNN.

That contribution is expected soon, before the end of the month, the source said. The timing is important because Gingirch, whose campaign has been lagging, is hoping to do well in several of the upcoming Super Tuesday states that vote on March 6 to boost his effort. His allies will need that money to be in a position to help. Because ten states go to the polls on that one day, money is key in order to do well.

You know, even if I were a billionaire, I doubt I’d throw it away like this. I’d still want to get something for my money, beyond just spinning out the GOP nomination contest a little farther down the line.

The WSJ has speculated that this is more about hurting Santorum than it is about helping Gingrich. (If you can’t get past the pay wall, Slate summarizes the argument.)

Whatever. It’s like this rich guy is playing with rats in a maze — giving this one a reward, that one a shock, to see what they’ll do next.

If I had the money, I’d spend it for something better. Build Habitat houses. Or get myself a new truck. Or burn it to keep warm on a cold night. Something useful…

36 thoughts on “Must be nice to have millions to throw away

  1. Silence

    I’m with you, that’s why I’m sitting on my millions a little longer before I fund a super-PAC. I’ve never understood why the rank and file working and middle class people donate to national campaigns anyhow. I can understand donating to someone for local or statewide office. $1000 will probably get you some face time with Sen. Graham or Congressman Clyburn. It’ll definitely get you noticed by a city councilman or state senator, I’ll bet they could recite each of their $1000 donors by name.
    Unless you are a bundler or funding a super-PAC, it doesn’t seem like you’d get much ROI in a presidential primary or national election.

  2. bud

    Maybe he’s an Obama supporter. Can’t see how $10 million can help Gingrich at this point but it could possibly extend the GOP freak show a while longer. And that can only be good news for the president.

  3. Steve Gordy

    Adelson is reportedly worth $ 20 billion. He is noted for his devotion to Israel and Gingrich has been over-the-top in seconding whatever the Netanyahu government does or might do. For Adelson, these donations are pocket change.

  4. Ralph Hightower

    New York City real estate mogul, Howard Rich, has thus far failed to push school vouchers into South Carolina despite spending millions of dollars buying politicians.

  5. Doug Ross

    How is an individual spending his own money to advance a political cause different from The State paying a staff to write political opinion pieces? Or for Fox News or MSNBC profiting from presenting political opinion?

  6. `Kathryn Fenner

    Because in the case of the media, what is being done is to pay informed people for their actual opinions, vs. an “opinion” made to order.

    Do you want to know what your doctor thinks is your diagnosis, or what a drug company paid him to say?

  7. Brad

    OK, Kathryn, you’ve helped me understand Doug’s question. Before you pointed out the error in his assumption, it seemed nonsensical. But he seems to be making the mistake of thinking editorialists were paid to express CERTAIN opinions, which is an alien notion.

    There’s a reason why, back in the days when there were newspapers, editorial boards were composed of the most senior, accomplished journalists, who had demonstrated the ability to go far beyond the stenography of news reporting to demonstrate a deep understanding of the news and achieve insights into issues.

    If all you wanted was someone to parrot a particular opinion, you could just hire an entry-level writer of press releases.

  8. Doug Ross

    Are you saying that the publisher would have allowed you to present an ongoing editorial position in favor of communism if that was your desire? The State has an editorial position that it wants to present and hires editorial writers to do that. It’s why The State is different from the Free Times. Different views presented for profit.

    Fox News and MSNBC make profits presenting a slanted view of the news and present opinion as analysis. They take money from investors who expect a certain world view to be presented in order to attain those profits.

    The difference is that someone like Adelson spends HIS money to present his view while people like Hannity and O’Reilly are paid to spout Murdoch’s views.

    Adelson is a pimp. Hannity, O’Reilly, Maddow, and Olbermann, et al are on the front end of that business.

  9. Brad

    Doug, no one who advocated communism would be named editorial page editor. So it wouldn’t come up.

    But that doesn’t explain it.

    In fact, I doubt I can explain it to you to your satisfaction. The process by which people become members of an editorial board is a complex and subtle process that is probably mysterious to most people who work at the newspaper, much less outsiders.

    The State as a business entity with money to pay someone to do something does NOT have an editorial position. The State editorial board DOES have a body of opinion that evolves over time, in daily meetings at which decisions are made about what positions to take.

    The process is rather organic, in that it’s rooted in positions that the board (NOT the business entity, but the group of senior editors achieving consensus in consultation) has arrived at in the past. But where it goes from there depends on the decisions made by the current board.

    To give you an idea about how that can evolve, let’s look at an issue with which the board was identified a few years back — video poker. Today, people think The State is this anti-gambling newspaper because of the positions taken on that and the state lottery. But that’s misleading.

    On video poker, the original position of the paper was neutral, if not positive. When the issue of whether it should be legal was actually put to a referendum in the mid-90s, the board (on which I was the new kid) endorsed a “yes” vote. And indeed the referendum was approved.

    But by the end of that decade, we saw how the industry had systematically sloughed off every restriction that proposal had placed on it, either through fighting them in court or in the Legislature. Worse, it had completely intimidated lawmakers. Just as Republicans who opposed vouchers in the middle of this past decade would be threatened with well-funded primary opposition, legislators of BOTH parties were even more threatened by video poker, mainly because there was a lot more money involved. At one point, more money was being spent on video poker than on gasoline (in one calculation made at the time), and vast amounts of it were used to keep the Legislature in line. In all my time in SC, I’ve never seen any one narrow interest have that much sway in the State House. I sometimes, on this blog, wave away the idea that money always corrupts, but in this case it did, partly because there was so much of it.

    After years of calling for the state to enforce the laws that were in place with video poker, we finally reached the conclusion that the only way to bring an end to its corroding influence was to bring an end to video poker. So we advocated that, and lawmakers summoned the courage to pass a bill that did that.

    That’s one example of how the process works, through constant discernment, day after day.

  10. Brad

    To add to that… I’ll address the issue of how someone gets hired to be on the editorial board, and then editorial page editor.

    It’s pretty far from the Adelson model of “I’ve got some money; I’ll use it to broadcast my opinion.”

    Although in my case, the business side actually played a significant (although not exclusive) role in my hiring, which more than anything illustrates how complicated it can be.

    In 1993, an opening occurred on the editorial board — which I don’t think had happened before in the six years I had been at the paper. I applied for it, as did others. One day before the interview process had even started, a fellow editor in the newsroom (one who had worked with the publisher at another paper) came to me and told me, “You have a problem. The publisher has the idea that you’re ‘too liberal’ to be on the editorial board.”

    My reaction to that was something on the order of WTF? I knew it wasn’t true, but I knew that if he thought that, I had a problem.

    I dealt with it in the most direct way possible. I walked straight upstairs to the publisher’s office (which I had never been in before; later it would be my own office), and asked if I could see him, right then and there. I was admitted, and I told him what I had heard, and told him it was wrong. I then launched into a recitation of my positions on various issues. Many of those positions would be quite familiar to readers on my blog, although a number of them would change over time as I studied various issues as a member of the board. Then as now, my views were a mix of liberal, moderate and conservative views, and no reasonable person could have characterized me fairly as a “liberal.” (Apparently, the problem started when a comment of mine about the newspaper’s endorsement of Bush in 1992 got back to him. My problem wasn’t that the paper backed Bush; I objected to the REASONS given. Still, what I said could have been interpreted as me being an enemy of free markets.)

    He was sufficiently impressed by the way I confronted this obstacle that he decided he not only wanted me on the board, but wanted me to be the next editorial page editor (although I didn’t realize that until sometime later). So he became my number-one cheerleader among the board members.

    But I still had to get past the other members (most of whom, incidentally, were more “liberal” than I was). This was accomplished in a series of one-on-one meetings, usually over lunch, as each member decided whether he or she thought I would be a good “fit.” That’s a complex concept, but basically it implies someone the existing members of the board can work with productively, regardless of whether their attitudes agree. That’s crucial because disagreements are inevitable; the issue is how constructively people can work together to overcome them and achieve a consensus.

    I ended up meeting with the then-EPE three times before he made up HIS mind (this took months). The process started in July or August of 93; I joined the board on Jan. 1, 1994.

    The account I just shared is an oversimplification. No doubt you will want to further simplify it by saying “the publisher is the guy with the money, so he’s Adelson, and he hired you to express his opinions.” Which would be wrong on several levels, including the fact that to this day, I couldn’t tell you what that publisher’s opinions WERE, beyond his vague objection at one point that I was “too liberal” for him — which, once we had spoken, turned out not to be true.

  11. Doug Ross

    Would you expect The State to hire an editorial staff that was pro school vouchers? How about against affirmative action? Pro abortion? Which members of the current staff are pro choice and express that view in print?

  12. Brad

    Doug, when I was brought onto the board, and later when I brought Cindi and Warren (the only ones left today) onto the board, vouchers were not an issue. It wouldn’t even have come up as an issue for consideration.

    I doubt that anyone will ever be added to the editorial board again, so that’s pretty moot. The other two members of the board today, by the way, are the publisher — who inherited our vouchers position — and executive editor Mark Lett, who when he was hired had nothing to do with editorial policy (he inherited my department when my position was eliminated).

    To my knowledge, the paper did not have a position on affirmative action until I wrote an editorial opposing the Bush administration on the issue. I wrote it myself because I wanted to be completely sure that every nuance of the position was just the way I wanted it to be. (There could be no way anyone could read it and think we were for “quotas,” or even for guaranteeing outcomes.)

    The position of the newspaper is technically, I think, pro-choice. (I say “I think” because I never went back and researched it; but I think that was the position before my tenure.) But we didn’t write about it during my tenure, not only because of my strong objection, but that of at least one other member at most times during that period. But ours wasn’t the only position on the board. Basically, positions on the board with regard to abortion were SO polarized — reflecting the larger society — that it was an issue on which we could not achieve consensus. And on issues where we could not achieve consensus, we did not express ourselves editorially — unless it was a key issue to the future of South Carolina, which neither this nor any other culture war issue ever was.

    Of the current members of the board, I only know the position of one. It is pro-choice. I suspect that a couple of others differ from that, but I’ve never discussed the issue with those people. It’s up to those people, not me, whether they want to express a public position. And that would certainly be the case if I were still there.

  13. Brad

    To explain further… if you could wipe the slate clean… say, if The State as a business was suddenly flush with money, but didn’t have ANY journalists working for it and could start from scratch, including a whole new editorial board… it’s pretty hard to imagine that the publisher would even think to ask what someone’s position was on vouchers.

  14. Brad

    That’s because business-side people don’t think about stuff like that. And bottom line, THAT is what is wrong with your analogy. Those people are pretty apolitical; they just care about the P&L.

  15. `Kathryn Fenner

    Why not, Doug? I think Brad explained that the process is not to “hire” viewpoints, but to promote good thinkers. If the thinker believes a given viewpoint is correct and can write a credible piece to back it up….

    Back when they had a whole stable of writers, I think I can think of one or two who would most likely have been pro-choice. I think the other viewpoints are pretty conservative, though.

  16. Doug Ross

    And would a pro-choice editorial position generate more ad revenue or less?

    Sorry, but having read The State for many years, I can’t recall ever being surprised by the positions taken on the editorial page.

    Now you’re going to tell me the New York Times and Wall Street Journal don’t have any editorial slant either?

  17. Brad

    Doug, it’s hard to engage your questions — much as I try — because they don’t synch with reality.

    The NYT and WSJ editorial boards have their sets of positions on issues, just as The State did. I don’t know if that’s what you mean by “editorial slant” or not.

    Now, if you mean what MOST people seem to mean by “slant,” which is a definite list to port or starboard as currently defined, then you have just described the two newspapers who come closest to fitting the general “slant” of left and right. Of course, that’s sort of a chicken and egg thing. Does the NYT take “liberal” positions, or are certain positions considered “liberal” because the NYT takes them? Because we’re talking about two institutions that play leading roles in the formulation of ideas on the left and right today.

    That said, one has to ask how you define left and right. The WSJ, for instance, wouldn’t fit everyone’s ideas of “conservative.” For instance, most of the opinions I read in that paper having to do with immigration come pretty close to the way I approach the issue, whereas people who see it the way YOU do are the ones who call themselves conservative.

    You’re also likely to find points of disagreement with the Tea Party, since that is a populist movement, and the WSJ is anything but a populist paper.

    The only fair way to characterize a newspaper’s editorial stance is that it is the total of many different positions taken over time. I’d say that’s even true with the papers who are icons of the left and right.

    Any attempt to describe any newspaper’s positions in a word or two is going to be misleading.

    Of course, sometimes people INSIST that you give them a characterization. Occasionally, I would oblige them by calling The State’s guiding philosophy “pragmatic conservatism.” But I often did it with a smile, and usually quickly added the big, fat caveat: “conservative” implies ideology, and “pragmatic” negates ideology. So, I urged people, make of that what you will…

  18. Brad

    Steven’s question is better than it sounds. Personally, in the rare cases (earlier in my career as an editor, when I supervised reporters at a small paper) when I hired someone more or less fresh from college, I tried to find nonjournalism majors. Because all J-school teaches are techniques and methods which I preferred to teach to them myself.

    When I was hiring or promoting more experienced people later, I looked for people who could THINK in spite of being journalism-trained. Because J-school had taught them not to think about issues, and if they slipped up and DID think about them, to hypnotize themselves into believing that they were thought-neutral.

    I needed people who demonstrated an ability to discern far beyond who, what, where, when and how.

  19. Mark Stewart

    The value of a liberal arts degree crops up yet again.

    Thinking critically will always be the most central skill in life.

  20. Doug Ross

    It’s not jusrmt those two papers. Boston and Manchester NH are 40 miles apart yet each cities primary newspaper has a definite slant on editorial content… I would doubt the editorial leadership at either paper would work at the other. The simple fact is that each paper pays people to present a certain political philosophy. Adelson is basically the equivalent of McClatchey of Gannett. Just like your arch-nemesis Howie Rich, he is willing to put his money behind his philosophy. I think he’s betting on a losing horse, but Adelson has every right to do it.

  21. Doug Ross

    And of course the Wall Street Journal would be in favor of a more lenient illegal immigrant policy – they are tilted toward the interests of big corporations — which need a steady supply of cheaper labor than American workers will provide. Cheap labor = more profit = goodness in the eyes of the Journal.

    Play a game with me here – Warren Bolton walks into the next editorial board meeting at The State and announces that he would like to write a series of columns for the next few weeks focusing on the right for women to choose abortion. What’s the response?

  22. `Kathryn Fenner

    My brother, a top grad of the USC J-school, will go head to head with any of you, and I’d back him (except maybe against Phillip–music degrees are obviously the best training!) He can also report and edit like a fiend.

  23. Brad

    Doug, I doubt you’ll ever accept this, but the fact is that you do not know what you’re talking about, and I do.

    McClatchy, and Knight Ridder before it, cannot be compared to Adelson because they did not, and do not, have a political position they wish to advance, through their editorial pages or any other way. They DO NOT CARE about that stuff.

    The editorial board of The State is a thing that had organic life before KR, during the KR ownership, and beyond. The decisions about what positions to take were made by those editors (and to a far lesser extent by the publishers, who were board members but not fully participating). There was always a certain continuity, a sort of collective “mind” of the board, through the years, changing much as a person changes and grows. To some extent it morphed as people went off the board and others took their place, but even when a position changed, it was done so with respect to previous positions. That was a high hurdle, and we felt obligated to explain carefully why “We said that in the past; now we say this.”

    It was always “we,” even when referring to those who were gone, because the editorial board was seen as a constant, with different people serving on it at different times. But I can’t think of any time when we thought of the people at corporate as part of the “we.”

    As for your odd question about Warren and abortion… first, I don’t think he’d take that position. Second, if he did, Cindi would object on the grounds that, if anyone objects MORE strongly than I do to going down Kulturkampf ratholes than I do, it’s Cindi. She is, and has always been, totally focused on the challenges facing government right here in South Carolina (she could hardly be bothered to write about the recent presidential primary at all).

    She, as do I, sees no point in bringing up issues that, in a South Carolina context, serve NO purpose but to infuriate and alienate half or more of the readership, when you are trying to engage those same people on issues that matter more to your mission.

    Abortion and related issues are callsigns in the hyperpartisan wars. Once you take a position, either way, practically no one on the other side of the issue will ever pay attention to anything you say on ANY issue. So why bring such issues up, when they are not central to what we’re dealing with in South Carolina?

    A column, of course, is personal, and not the position of the newspaper. But on the board we generally agreed to avoid, if we could, causing trouble for each other with what we wrote in columns. And one of the only two associate editors left going off on a tear about abortion — either way — would be a huge, unnecessary distraction for the editorial page.

    Beyond that, frankly, I find it hard to imagine how decisions are made on the editorial board today, because there’s no editorial page editor. For the most part, it appears that Cindi does her thing, and Warren his, and when they disagree, I suppose they take it to the publisher and/or Mark Lett, the editor who is over them now that they’ve been administratively folded into the newsroom (because there’s no EPE). But I have no idea of the extent to which Mark or Henry Haitz, the current publisher, assert themselves in editorial affairs.

  24. Doug Ross

    Which of the papers owned by the New York Times woukd you call conservative? Which of Rupert Murdoch’s media entities are liberal?

    So if the question of revisiting Roe v. Wade at a state level ever comes up, would The State offer no opinion? no opinion on contraception? No opinion on stem cells?

    And I realized what the political philosophy of The State editorial page has been for quite a while. It’ s not conservative or liberal. It is the philosophyof “more”. More government programs and more government intrusion into people’s lives. It is pro Innovista, pro war, pro increasing taxes, pro bus service, pro anything that takes from some to give to others.

  25. Brad

    Yeah, Doug, whatever. So much for me going the extra mile to help you understand something of which I have particular, inside knowledge. It just ends with an insult (by your standards).

  26. Doug Ross


    If I ever get to the point where doubting my perception of things causes me problems then I will start listening to other know-it-alls. Thus far, I am satisfied with my views. They haven’t let me down yet.

  27. Doug Ross


    There was no insult. Facts is facts. The State has no recent editorial history that reflects a limited government approach worldview.

  28. Brad

    Doug, because I believe in the American system of government — characterized by separation of powers, checks and balances and a constitution — I am as strong an advocate for limited government as you are likely to find. The only way I would ever opt for UNlimited government — such as enlightened despotism — would be if I got to be the despot. Which doesn’t seem likely to happen, so I’ve never bothered advocating for it.

    I am for government doing the things that it does in any rational, civilized system and not one thing more. And yes, that includes a decent bus system, something that other parts of the country have little trouble providing, but which we seem to have some mental block against. It includes investing in economic development. It includes protecting the nation’s legitimate security interests.

    And it involves having a balanced, non-ideological approach to taxation — specifically, in South Carolina, comprehensive tax reform, which would involve both tax increases and cuts. Forgive me if I don’t have a quasi-religious belief that the only thing that can be done with taxes is to cut them.

  29. Silence

    @ Kathryn – please provide evidence of your mind changing. Photographic documentation of the procedure would be admissible.


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