The publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday stood by his claim that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened one of the newspaper's employees, after Reid's office claimed the alleged threat was meant as a joke. 

Publisher Sherman Frederick first accused Reid of "bullying" in a column Sunday. He said Reid told his paper's ad director, "I hope you go out of business," at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon a few days earlier. 

After the column generated a lot of controversy and attention, Reid spokesman Jon Summers claimed the newspaper misinterpreted the remark. 

"Clearly he wasn't serious," he said. "Once again, the editors at the Review-Journal got it wrong." 

But Frederick told FOX News that Reid's trademark dry wit was not at play here. 

"We were there. We heard it. He was mad," he said. "No matter what angle we look at it, it's pretty darn ugly." 

An article in the Review-Journal Tuesday said the original column generated thousands of reader comments and dozens of letters. Frederick told FOX News, though, that his complaint about Reid was in no way a publicity stunt. 

"We're not making this up. We're worried. I mean, Senator Reid is not just any U.S. senator," he said. "The only way I know to deal with a bully is to not necessarily beat him up but just to simply stand up to him and shine the light of day on him. And it's my only defense."

Reid and the Review-Journal have what the newspaper described as a "mixed relationship." 

The newspaper endorsed Republican John Ensign, then a congressman, over Reid in 1998. Ensign is now the state's other senator. But the paper endorsed Reid in 2004. 

However, Reid is facing a challenging run for re-election in 2010, something the newspaper has drawn attention to. 

The Review-Journal last month published a poll showing GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian leading Reid by 49 percent to 38 percent in the race. Tarkanian is a former basketball player for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.