Thursday, May 07, 2009

Las Vegas journo: Tabloid Baby coverage of Danny Gans mystery is "beneath contempt"

"I looked over what
you've been 'reporting.'
It's all beneath contempt...
Pulitzer Prize winning

newspapers have better
uses of their resources

than to 'investigate' something
that public documents

will reveal soon enough anyway."

Finally, a member of the Las Vegas media elite has explained to us why he and other trained, veteran journalists have kept a hands-off approach to the mystery surrounding the death of local superstar Danny Gans. While the premature deaths of Las Vegas stalwarts like Elvis Presley, Liberace, Anna Nicole Smith and Ted Binion were covered in detail by the local and national media, Gans' passing at the age of 52 has not received any critical or investigative treatment by reporters or editors, who've instead relied in statements by the local police and Gans' employer Steve Wynn to provide the sketchy details before settling in for a lengthy wait until the Clark County Coroner's Office releases an "official" statement on the cause of Gans' death.

Gans was a local hero. One newscaster this week referred to him as a "religious leader." One newspaper entered into a book deal with Gans' family and manager.

So we were waiting for the Thursday publication of the "alternative" Las Vegas Weekly to perhaps find some answers to the questions and speculation that have filled the information void since Gans' death was reported on Friday morning.

The story, labeled as "News" and written by veteran journalist Steve Friess, began promisingly enough:

"...How does a 52-year-old health nut die in his sleep?

"Here are my first and second comments, in this order: 'Oh, that’s so sad.' Then, after a long pause: 'But I wonder who’s going to care.'

"Yes, that sounds cold. But I meant—and Miles got it immediately—who in the national media will recognize this passing as a significant story? That’s my job and to some extent my function in this community, to determine what of the local news rises to the level of broader significance and interest, and which publication is going to want me to document it..."

How does a 52-year-old health nut die in his sleep? Alas, Friess was not out to dig up those facts. His story turned out to be just another palm-greasing eulogy praising the local religious leader:

"...Danny Gans wasn’t just talking a good game— he meant and lived a set of priorities regardless of whether he was bypassing fame or fortune or critical acclaim. Were he alive today to comment on his death, he wouldn’t give a damn that he never got to release that album or that the national media took scant notice of his demise. He would only care that he won’t meet his grandchildren, that his wife is now alone, that his friends have lost a golfing buddy.

"All those survivors may feel cheated by fate, but they’re not going to feel cheated by him. He gave them as much as he could. That’s what Gans was trying to say all that time. And if we finally get it— if we set aside our notions of what constitutes a successful life for someone in the public eye— then maybe, just maybe, this will be his greatest and most lasting impression."

As it turns out, The Las Vegas Weekly is owned by the same company that publishes the daily Las Vegas Sun, the 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner that is also ignoring the story.

We emailed Steve Friess this morning:


"Why is no one in the Las Vegas media investigating what happened to Danny Gans?"

Steve Friess responded:

"Uh, because until the toxicology reports come back it would be irresponsible and inappropriate for legitimate reporters to write baseless speculation? Because a man is dead and a family is in mourning and the state of the nation is not dependent upon exacerbating their grief? Because Pulitzer Prize winning newspapers have better uses of their resources than to 'investigate' something that public documents will reveal soon enough anyway?

"I looked over what you've been 'reporting.' It's all beneath contempt. Ginning up Robin Leach's 'rumors' when the rumors he's referring to have nothing to do with Gans' death, implying an inappropriate relationship with Alicia Jacobs, attacking the local press for having a modicum of dignity and restraint on a story that will come out anyway ... I need to go take a shower now. Blech.

We emailed back:

"Thanks for the honest response, Steve. Can we quote you?"

Steve Friess, well known as the author of the book, Gay Vegas ("Don’t miss the pictorial on Vegas’ most phallic!") responded quickly:

"you bet. this shit'll be on my blog in a few minutes anyway."

Sigh. Not another media feud!


Anonymous said...

Danny did not end with Bobby Darin's "The Curtain Falls." Why does this Chip Lightman keep putting this out. It is a big lie. I was at the show!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Steve Friess has figured out that he just " Shit and fell back into it" as we say here in the south, by pissing off Burt" Prince Of Darkness" Kearns?:)-Lewis Bailey