RJ editor to reporters: Ask candidates about public stadium funding but not for the newspaper

Reporters for Sheldon Adelson's newspaper have been told to ask candidates if they support public money for the stadium proposed by the Las Vegas Sands chairman but that the Las Vegas Review-Journal will not actually publish the answers.

This astonishing request was made in a memo two weeks ago from Assistant City Editor Don Ham:

All of you who are handling state Senate, state Assembly and Clark County Commission races for the tab should make sure to ask this very timely question of the candidates. This question is NOT going to be added to the question asked of candidates for the online election package, though. Should public money, in the form of room taxes, be used to build a proposed stadium in Las Vegas. Why or why not? Any questions, see me. Thanks.

Notice the capitalization of the word NOT. What in the world does that mean? Why ask a question of candidates that will not be used in the paper? Are they getting a head count for Adelson? Reminding candidates the newspaper could be used as a bludgeon?

Note that these are candidates running for the offices that could vote on public money for the stadium. Adelson has demanded that $750 million in room taxes be used or he will walk away from the plan to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas.

I am not sure in all my years in journalism I have ever seen anything like this: Reporters asked to query candidates on an issue of great concern to the owner but told it will not be published.

Neither Ham nor Editor Keith Moyer responded to requests for comment.

This is a new nadir for the organization.