Controversial front man for Sheldon Adelson buys weekly newspaper in Rhode Island
Michael E. Schroeder, who is fronting the company that recently bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and who owns four Connecticut newspapers, has acquired The Block Island Times weekly
The bad part of the M&A business, at least for me, was the fact that many of the ‘sellers’ were families that had run their newspapers or magazines for decades, sometimes generations, and the ‘buyers’ were often large corporations who could care less about the publication’s history, its staff, or its editorial mission, but were acquiring the property for competitive advantage or out of fear that someone else might scoop up the property and somehow make a success of it at their expense. (It is often this fear factor that keeps multiples higher than they probably should be.)
The ‘sellers’ often sold their properties with a tinge of regret, fearful that the new owner will not respect the history of their publications, and may begin their new ownership with layoffs.
Fraser Lang and his wife Betty Rawls Lang have published The Block Island Times since 2006, a relatively short time as these things go, but I’m sure they have to wonder what the new owner has in mind. That new owner, Michael E. Schroeder, is the front man for Sheldon Adelson, and someone who doesn’t seem to mind using the pages of his paper to serve the needs of the casino billionaire. Schroeder will take over the paper come January 1.
The small Rhode Island weekly was founded in 1970, a relatively new paper by New England newspaper standards. Since its founding the paper has had five publishers with the Langs being the third husband and wife team.
“When we became publishers of The Block Island Times a decade ago we accepted a challenging job as well as a public trust,” the Langs wrote to readers on Christmas Day. “We now relinquish our responsibilities grateful for the sustaining support of the community and confident that the The Block Island Times will prosper under the new ownership.”
The Lang’s farewell message might well have been written, or at least approved by Schroeder, as it mentions the new publisher’s background, but not at all the controversy surrounding the publisher, though one reader has already commented twice on the story, warning readers about what might be coming.
News of the acquisition came around the same time a reporter for one of Schroeder’s newspapers penned an explanation for why he felt he needed to resign.
“I have watched in recent days as Mr. Schroeder has emerged as a spokesman for a billionaire with a penchant for politics who secretly purchased a Las Vegas newspaper and is already moving to gut it,” Steve Collins wrote on his Facebook page. “I have learned with horror that my boss shoveled a story into my newspaper – a terrible, plagiarized piece of garbage about the court system – and then stuck his own fake byline on it. I admit I never saw the piece until recently, but when I did, I knew it had Mr. Schroeder’s fingerprints all over it.”
(Collins will be receiving a $5000 from the peace activism organization Catalytic Diplomacy, which has established the I.F. Stone Whistle-Blower Award, with the now unemployed Collins as its first recipient, according to Talking Points Memo.)
The NY Times on Monday morning walked their readers through the controversy surrounding the purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and Schroeder’s involvement in it, as well as the story he wrote for his Connecticut newspaper (under a pseudonym) that attacked a Nevada judge.
“Asked whether he was writing under the nom de plume Edward Clarkin, Mr. Schroeder declined to comment,” wrote the NYT’s Barry Meier and Sydney Ember.
“Mr. Schroeder appears to have a connection to the Adelson family through Russel Pergament, the publisher of JNS.org, which syndicates articles from Mr. Adelson’s paper Israel Hayom in the United States. Mr. Schroeder and Mr. Pergament worked together at BostonNOW, a defunct free daily newspaper.”
“We hope to serve the island’s residents with the same commitment we have shown to readers and advertisers in Central Connecticut, with strong, independent editorial content and service to advertisers,” Schroeder said in the story in the Bristol Press on the acquisition. Block Island residents probably hope for a better future than what past performance might portend.
Note: Josh Marshall at TPM took a look on Christmas Day at this sorry story of Adelson and Schroeder and finds Schroeder to be the “star of this whole show”: