Earlier this evening, I pointed out that the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Sherman Frederick has stepped down as the paper's publisher; the same article noted that the paper's editor in chief, Thomas Mitchell, would also be stepping down. The article suggested that Frederick was reducing his responsibility due to health issues.
But Steve Friess, a Las Vegas-based freelance journalist who once worked for the Review-Journal and now often writes for Las Vegas Weekly, has a different theory, reporting on his blog that the "real explanation" is that "Harry Reid won":
An extremely knowledgable source at the paper called this move a "shakeout" and a "head slap" from the top, meaning the owners back in Arkansas. He reminded me that the Stephens family are big Washington D.C. players, with banking interests and other issues to deal with in Congress. They may have supported Republican candidates, but the over-the-top efforts by Sherm Frederick and [Review-Journal editor] Thomas Mitchell to support Sharron Angle and unrelentingly beat up on the Senate Majority Leader was exceptional. It was nasty and personal and harmed the reporters' ability to have their work taken credibly, but even more importantly, if the Stephens clan wanted to make nice with Harry Reid, the only way to do it was to get rid of Frederick and Mitchell.
In a follow-up post, Friess writes that he is "fairly confident" and has "sources that have provided some proof" that Reid's victory "played a pretty big part" in the replacement of Frederick and Mitchell.
In the lead-up to Reid's re-election, Frederick:
- Reprinted in full a GOP press release attacking Reid. Twice.
- Ran a large photo of a trailer with the words "Elect Anyone Butt Harry Reid."
- Suggested wrongdoing on Reid's part relating to former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's filling of his state's vacant Senate seat, for which he provided no evidence.
- Questioned whether Reid is "physically up to the job" of U.S. senator.
- Pushed Fox News' evidence-free smears to attack Reid over allegations that a former low-level staffer allegedly lied to federal investigators about her marriage -- prior to going to work for Reid's office.
In March, Media Matters' Joe Strupp reported that the papers employees as well as other journalism observers in the region have said that Frederick's commentary hurts the newspaper's image.