A week ago, no one had ever heard of Edward Clarkin. Today he has inspired multiple parody Twitter accounts, prompted one journalist to quit his job after 22 years and has been the subject of intense speculation in elite media circles.
This is how Edward Clarkin went from an unknown to the center of the world of journalism.
Who Is Edward Clarkin?
Edward Clarkin holds himself out to be a reporter for the New Britain Herald, a small paper in Connecticut with a circulation of about 7500. Prior to this month, Clarkin’s only articles for the New Britain Herald were four effusive restaurant reviews published in 2011. “If A Taste of Poland is anything like Warsaw or Krakow, I’m buying an airplane ticket tomorrow,” Clarkin wrote.
Then, on December 1, Clarkin published a nearly 2,000 word article on the performance of business courts, which specialize in corporate issues. Oddly, the article not only covered Connecticut business courts but included ten paragraphs criticizing Elizabeth Gonzalez, a state judge in Nevada. Clarkin wrote that Gonzalez’s rulings “appear inconsistent and even contradictory” and her conduct “undermines the rationale for the creation of such courts in the first place.”
Is Edward Clarkin A Good Reporter?
It does not appear so.
Several of the sources quoted in his business courts article say they were never contacted by Clarkin or anyone from the New Britain Herald, according to the Hartford Courant.
The Courant also revealed that other passages in the piece were blatantly plagarized from other sources.
Is Edward Clarkin A Real Person?
All signs point to no.
“There is no record of an Edward Clarkin in Connecticut on state voting rolls, property records, lawyer registries or various social-media sites, and several current and former newspaper employees said they never met anyone by that name,” the Hartford Currant reported.
The New Britain Herald staff numbers in the single digits — but no one can recall ever meeting or talking to Clarkin.
Michael Schroeder, the publisher of the New Britain Herald, said that he has “no comment on our newsgathering, story selection or writers” and “declined to provide information about Clarkin.”
Schroeder told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he had “no idea” how to reach Clarkin.
Schroeder does have an unusual connection to Clarkin, however. Schroeder’s middle name is Edward and his mother’s maiden name is Clarkin.
— ctnewsjunkie (@ctnewsjunkie) December 23, 2015
What else should I know about Michael Schroder?
Michael Schroder is the manager for News + Media Capital Group LLC, a company created by conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson to purchase the Las Vegas Review-Journal earlier this month.
In other words, he is now the boss of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, answering to Adelson.
The Review-Journal and related companies will still be managed by Gatehouse Media, Manager Michael Schroeder says. pic.twitter.com/O5tkoAsAx8
— Keith Rogers (@KeithRogers2) December 11, 2015
Initially, Schroder declined to identify the investors who purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Reporters from the Review-Journal independently established that Adelson had purchased their paper.
What’s the connection between Edward Clarkin and the Las Vegas Review-Journal?
While Adelson was pursuing the purchase of the Review-Journal, three Review-Journal reporters were abruptly told to “[d]rop everything and spend two weeks monitoring all activity of three Clark County judges.” The assignment came directly from GateHouse Media, the former owner of the Review-Journal. (GateHouse continues to manage day-to-day operations at the Review-Journal under an agreement with Adelson.)
One of the judges under scrutiny: Elizabeth Gonzalez, the target of Edward Clarkin’s article in the New Britain Herald.
Review-Journal reporters wrote 15,000 words about the judges assigned to them by GateHouse, including Gonzalez, but none of their work ever appeared in the paper.
Information about Elizabeth Gonzalez did subsequently appear under Edward Clarkin’s name in the New Britain Herald.
After publishing the story about the Review-Journal’s unusual assignment about Judge Gonzalez, the editor of the paper, Mike Hengel, was replaced.
Does Sheldon Adelson have a special interest in Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez?
Judge Gonzalez is overseeing a case against Adelson and his gambling company by a former attorney who alleges “he was fired for trying to break the company’s links to Chinese organized crime triads.” The employee also claims “Adelson turned a blind eye to prostitution and other illegal activities in his resorts there.”
Adelson has clashed with Gonzalez as the case has progressed. At one point, Adelson refused to answer a routine question and Gonzales told him, “Sir, you don’t get to argue with me. You understand that?”
Gonzalez has fined Adelson’s companies hundreds of thousands of dollars for withholding documents. Adelson offered financial support to candidates willing to run against Gonzalez and unseat her, according to the Review Journal.
Are people upset about Edward Clarkin?
Yes. And Michael Schroeder.
Steve Majerus-Collins, who worked at the New Britain Herald for 22 years, quit his job on Christmas Eve. Majerus-Collins explained why in a Facebook post:
I have watched in recent days as Mr. Schroeder has emerged as a spokesman for a billionaire with a penchant for politics who secretly purchased a Las Vegas newspaper and is already moving to gut it. I have learned with horror that my boss shoveled a story into my newspaper – a terrible, plagiarized piece of garbage about the court system – and then stuck his own fake byline on it. I admit I never saw the piece until recently, but when I did, I knew it had Mr. Schroeder’s fingerprints all over it. Yet when enterprising reporters asked my boss about it, he claimed to know nothing or told them he had no comment. Yesterday, they blew the lid off this idiocy completely, proving that Mr. Schroeder lied, that he submitted a plagiarized story, bypassed what editing exists and basically used the pages of my newspaper, secretly, to further the political agenda of his master out in Las Vegas. In sum, the owner of my paper is guilty of journalistic misconduct of epic proportions.
There is no excusing this behavior. A newspaper editor cannot be allowed to stamp on the most basic rules of journalism and pay no price. He should be shunned by my colleagues, cut off by professional organizations and told to pound sand by anyone working for him who has integrity.
So I quit.
Majerus-Collins quit even though he has two kids in college and no idea how to support himself. “I have to stand up for what is right even if the cost is so daunting that at this moment it scares the hell out of me,” he wrote.
Why is Edward Clarkin so important?
If Edward Clarkin is really Michael Schroder, he is symbolic of an effort of a billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, to seize control of the largest paper in a major state and use it as a vehicle to advance his political agenda by any means necessary.
Nevada is a swing-state and Adelson is among the very largest donors to the Republican Party.
He is the chairman of a multi-billion dollar casino company, Las Vegas Sands Corp. In addition to supporting Republican candidates he also opposes online gambling and drug legalization. He is also a strident supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel and operates an paper in Israel, Israel Today, that is largely viewed as a propaganda outlet for Netanyahu’s government.
Adelson has spent hundreds of millions on candidates and causes he supports. But Edward Clarkin might be his most brazen move yet.