Thursday, June 11, 2009

Las Vegas news media sat on their hands for 39 days and allowed coroner to create confusion in Danny Gans death case

The Las Vegas Review-Journal definitely got it wrong in the above headline about "the real Danny Gans."

The real Danny Gans died from taking Dilaudid, which is the trade name for Hydromorphone, a narcotic and an opiate which is eight times stronger than morphine and known on the streets as "drug store heroin."

Mike Murphy, the Clark County Coroner who announced the cause of Danny Gans' death, would not release the amount of the drug found in Gans' blood. He would not say whether Gans had a prescription for the painkiller. He would not release the name of Gans' physician. He did not use the word "overdose" because "overdose" is not an official medical term in describing the cause of death.

Danny Gans used the drug for "chronic pain syndrome." It's unlikely that the fatal dose of drug store heroin was his first.

It's very clear that statement by the coroner was crafted very carefully to satisfy many interests beyond Gans' family. Words were chosen to be arranged in order that they could not be proven inaccurate but by their very arrangement would confuse, misdirect and mislead.

It's also clear that some of the delay in announcing the cause of the death of Danny Gans was to allow more than five weeks to pass, and to allow bits of misinformation to take hold.

That Danny Gans may have been a hiding a drug problem is a sad, yet unsurprising story. Each of us has a public life, a private life-- and a secret life, no? In the case of a man whose unlikely success relied on an image of wholesomeness, athleticism, spirituality and Christianity, and who had connections to not only the corporate world but the lucrative business of "Born Again" evangelical Christianity, it's understandable that those around him and those who profited from him would try to protect his image in death.

What's inexcusable is that the local news media were party to the coverup.

The local news media allowed six weeks to pass without reporting what they knew about the secret life of Danny Gans, sitting on their hands and information for 39 days before going into make-up and catch-up mode, working to set the record straight-- when they know it will always remain clouded because of their deliberate inaction.

Book Deal

We reported on May 13th that sources within the newsroom of the Las Vegas Review-Journal suspected that Danny Gans' death was related to an addiction to painkillers. The Review-Journal did not report that, nor did they report any details of the circumstances of Gans' death beyond those released in a police statement and by Gans' manager Chip Lightman and his boss, Steve Wynn.

The paper's gossip columnist Norm Clarke did report on May 7th that the Review-Journal's publisher had made a deal with Gans' manager and family to publish his hagiographic "autobiography"-- and planning "a mid-May ad campaign to allow people to reserve copies." That would be one conflict of interest that might cause mustachioed cowboy editor Thomas Mitchell to pull back the reins on coverage.

Editors of the Las Vegas Sun, which outsiders might believe to be a competing newspaper but is owned by the Review-Journal's publisher and mainly an Internet entity, put an obvious hold on Gans coverage after its columnist John Katsilometes wrote on they day Gans died:

"Gans’ physical appearance started to seem unnatural, his bulk suggesting the use of supplements."

Katsilometes never wrote about the subject again, until Wednesday's paper, when writing about the coroner's news conference, he fairly exploded with what he had holding back for so many weeks:

"Officially, the explanation has been made public. But the discussion of Gans’ death likely won’t cease for some time, as observers remember his reputation for missing shows for somewhat unexplained reasons. One of the questions tossed out today was if any steroids were found in Gans’ system. Murphy responded that the only drugs identified were those who contributed to his death -- the painkillers. The questions will continue, the rumors probably won’t abate."

Ralph Fountain/Las Vegas Review Journal photo
Questions and Rumors

Had members of the local news media done their job-- reporting what the paramedics found at the scene of Gans' death, what Gans' associates, coworkers, friends and enemies had to say about his lifestyle, and what they actually knew about the facts of his life and death-- there might not be "questions" and "rumors" today.

To paraphrase one commenter on this site: Real reporters don't wait to get their answers from news conferences. They question why their bosses pull them off hot stories.

The sad details of Danny Gans' death are no longer our concern. The sordid doings of the evidently corrupt Las Vegas news media are, and we will follow up in the days to come, beginning with the media members who took action to shut down this site because we were asking questions about Gans' death.


1 comment:

escort madrid said...

Pretty worthwhile data, lots of thanks for your post.