The publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Sunday accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, of "bullying" his newspaper by telling an employee he wants the Review-Journal shut down.
Sherman Frederick alleged in a column in his newspaper that the "full-on threat" was made during a brief exchange between Reid and the newspaper's advertising director Wednesday at a luncheon for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.
Frederick said that as Reid shook the employee's hand, he said, "I hope you go out of business."
While acknowledging that his newspaper does not always see "eye to eye with him on matters of politics," Frederick noted that ad director Bob Brown has "nothing to do with news coverage" or opinion pages.
It's unclear whether Reid's comment was meant in jest. A representative for Reid could not be reached for a response.
But Frederick apparently did not take it lightly.
"Such behavior cannot go unchallenged. You could call Reid's remark ugly and be right. It certainly was boorish. Asinine? That goes without saying," he wrote. "But to fully capture the magnitude of Reid's remark (and to stop him from doing the same thing to others) it must be called what it was -- a full-on threat perpetrated by a bully who has forgotten that he was elected to office to protect Nevadans, not sound like he's shaking them down."
In excoriating him, Frederick referenced Reid's upcoming 2010 election -- which a recent poll published by the Review-Journal shows is a tough race for the powerful incumbent senator.
"No citizen should expect this kind of behavior from a U.S. senator. It is certainly not becoming of a man who is the majority leader in the U.S. Senate. And it absolutely is not what anyone would expect from a man who now asks Nevadans to send him back to the Senate for a fifth term," he wrote. "So today, we serve notice on Sen. Reid that this creepy tactic will not be tolerated."