Viva Las Vegas

The Las Vegas Sun reporter keeping candidates in check

The president visited Sin City yesterday to bolster support for hot midterm target Harry Reid, drawing our attention to coverage in the city’s Pulitzer Prize-winning paper, The Las Vegas Sun.

But it was some strong reporting on an Obama-less story that caught our eye when we got there. In “Jobs at CityCenter give Reid 22,000 Talking Points,” the Sun’s experienced political reporter Anjeanette Damon affords Reid’s senate rival Sharron Angle zero slack, strongly countering the Tea Party favorite’s bluster.

Damon first lays out the job-saving act Reid’s been bragging about in campaign ads and which gives the article its name.

GM Resorts International was close to shuttering CityCenter, the largest private construction project in the nation’s history. Financing had dried up in the wake of the financial industry’s collapse. At MGM’s request, Reid and his Republican counterpart Sen. John Ensign called the CEOs of the company’s lenders urging them not to ignore the project.

Without that intervention, Reid argues, 22,000 workers would be without jobs and the Strip would be stuck with a cluster of partially built hotels.

Then she reports on a talk radio interview Angle gave in which the issue was raised.

“No, I would not,” Angle said when a caller asked if she would have intervened as Reid did.

“The reason is he may have saved jobs in CityCenter but he actually cost jobs in other parts of the city. The issue here becomes bailouts and stimulus. We want something that’s not going to bail out and stimulate. What we want is to deregulate, lower taxes, give businesses some breathing room to do what they do best, which is create jobs.”

While others let the comment stand, playing the he-said-she-said line we’ve become used to, Damon doesn’t gamble on her readers picking up the equivocation.

Angle’s answer appears to conflate government stimulus spending and the use of political clout to facilitate a private business deal. At CityCenter, Reid brought no government money, legislation or regulation to bear, only his clout as majority leader. The construction and resort jobs created were all private industry jobs.

We happily clink our Friday afternoon glasses to Damon’s sharp pushback. Cheers!

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Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.