Now the media are just taunting us with their tall tales about Stephen Paddock, the alleged Las Vegas shooter. Reputedly serious news organizations are claiming that he made a living playing video poker. That's like claiming someone made a living smoking crack.
The media are either doing PR for the gambling industry or they don't want anyone considering the possibility that Paddock was using gambling to launder money.
NBC News reports, with a straight face: "Las Vegas gunman earned millions as a gambler." A Los Angeles Times article is headlined, "In the solitary world of video poker, Stephen Paddock knew how to win." The story says that Paddock's gambling "was at least a steady income over a period of years."
I don't know all the ins and outs of Paddock's life, but that's a lie.
How do reporters imagine casino owners make a living? Any ideas on how all those glorious lobbies, lights, pools and fountains are paid for? How do they think Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn became billionaires if gambling is a winning proposition for people like Paddock -- and therefore, by definition, a losing proposition for the casinos?
The media think about money the way Democrats do. They have absolutely no conception of where it originates. Those casino owners sure are generous! reporters think to themselves.
Economist Thomas Sowell is always ridiculing journalists for not understanding basic economics. It turns out, they don't understand the spreadsheet of a lemonade stand.
The New York Times explained that the "top" video poker machines pay out 99.17 percent. That's great that Paddock was only losing cents on the dollar (if true), but it's still losing. The Times quickly explained that he could have more than made up his losses with all the "comps" -- the free rooms, meals and "50-year-old port that costs $500 a glass," as his brother Eric said.
Gamblers who are beating the house are not given $500 glasses of port. Refer to the profit/loss spreadsheet. And yet, according to his brother, Paddock was treated like royalty by the casinos. Which means he was losing.
Apart from outright theft, the only way to have an advantage over the casino is by card-counting. That's not cheating and it doesn't guarantee a win. It merely allows the gambler to make a more educated guess as each card is played, thereby tilting the odds ever so slightly in his favor. Still, if the casinos suspect a customer is counting cards, he will be promptly escorted off the premises.
And counting cards only helps with blackjack. Paddock's game of choice was VIDEO POKER. That's a computer! It's programmed to ensure the house wins. Not all the time, but at least often enough to make casino owners multibillionaires. Anyone who plays video poker over an extended period of time will absolutely, 100 percent, by basic logic, end up a net loser.
So why are the media insistent that Paddock was getting rich by playing video poker?
I don't know what happened -- and, apparently, neither do the cops -- but it's kind of odd that we keep being told things that aren't true about the Las Vegas massacre, from the basic timeline to this weird insistence that Paddock made a good living at gambling.
The most likely explanation is that the reporters and investigators are incompetent nitwits. But the changing facts from law enforcement and preposterous lies from the press aren't doing a lot to tamp down alternative theories of the crime.
Among the questions not being asked by our wildly incurious media:
Why would Paddock unload 200 rounds into the hallway at a security guard who was checking on someone else's room before beginning his massacre?
How can it possibly take eight days to figure out when the alleged shooter checked into the hotel?
Why was Paddock wearing gloves if he was about to commit suicide?
Have any other solitary mass shooters ever had girlfriends?
If Paddock wasn't making money on video poker -- and he wasn't -- why would he be cycling millions of dollars through a casino, turning every dollar into, at best, 99 cents?
Maybe Paddock enjoyed video poker. But if the allegedly serious media are going to keep telling us he was making a living doing it, they're just begging us to say that losing a percent or two on millions of dollars doesn't make sense as an investment strategy, but it does make sense as a money laundering operation.
And the probable illicit business requiring money to be laundered that leaps out at us in Paddock's case is illegal gun sales. If true, it would not only explain the arsenal in his hotel room, but also raises the possibility of either an accomplice or different perpetrator altogether.
If this were a movie script, a terrorist would go to Paddock's room on the pretense of buying guns, kill Paddock, commit the massacre, put his gunshot residue-covered gloves on Paddock's dead hands and slip out of the room when the coast was clear.
According to the all-new timeline given by the Las Vegas police -- pending a third revision -- this is at least possible. The hallway was empty, except for a bleeding security guard down by the elevators, for at least two minutes after the shooting stopped. The stairwell was clear for more than half an hour. It also explains the gloves.
There's no evidence for any of this, but on the other hand, there's no evidence for the version the media are giving us. At least the movie script version doesn't require us to pretend that Paddock was making "millions" from video poker.