Rupert Murdoch Funds Daily Reporter’s Hunter S. Thompson–Inspired Vegas Vacation

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Journalism.Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

News Corp.'s iPad-only newspaper experiment isn't exactly a runaway success so far, but it's being praised as an interesting research and development project. It is also, apparently, the kind of long-lost journalistic endeavor in which a bold staff reporter can convince an editor to send him on a seven-day trip in search of the American Dream. Some 7,000 words to that effect appear in The Daily today to mark the 40th anniversary of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, featuring a fair share of history and introspection, but also a desert road race, strip clubs, gambling, and a paid photographer who may or may not have ingested magic mushrooms on the plane ride westward.

A week in and around the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, as relayed by Daily culture writer Zach Baron in two parts, includes both decadence (bathrobes, an in-room Jacuzzi, and a rental car) and "disaster porn" in recession-ravaged Las Vegas. Did I mention crooked cab drivers, a fire sale at the Sahara, and a lot of tequila? Also, naked women and bad music:

I have not been to many strip clubs in my life, but I’ve been to a few, and I can say for certain that I’d never before seen the rag — gnarled, white, nubby, mute in repose. There was a spray bottle too. What the dancers at the Diamond would do is hold the rag in one hand and the bottle in the other, and sort of hit the rag a few times with whatever fluid was inside before carefully wiping down the pole at the center of the stage. Only then would they begin their act. We sat through a Bush song, and one from Staind. White Zombie. Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like a Hole.”

Parts three and four of the reporter's drug- and perk-filled fairy-tale–nightmare hybrid are slated for tomorrow. It's not exactly the "oldest dog in America, or the richest man in South Dakota" story called for by the tablet publication's editor early on, and it's certainly not the USA Today–style Middle American tabloid journalism The Daily was teased as targeting. But if that $500,000 a week in operational costs is going toward literary, long-form storytelling, Mr. Murdoch has done readers much worse.

Fear and Self-Loathing in Las Vegas [The Daily]