The owner of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino pressured security guard Jesus Campos to give his only interview to comedian Ellen DeGeneres because the company feared he would reveal unwanted details about the shooting timeline, according to sources who spoke to Daily Mail.
MGM, which owns a number of large casinos in Las Vegas, is concerned that the families of the 58 slain victims and more than 500 people who were wounded would launch lawsuits against the company if Campos went off script, Daily Mail reported, citing unnamed sources.
The casino owner was concerned that Campos would crack under pressure from hard news hosts on Fox, NBC, and ABC and instead had the guard star in a pre-recorded softball segment with comedian Ellen DeGeneres airing during a daytime slot on Wednesday, Daily Mail added.
“MGM was behind the decision to call off all the interviews and did a deal with Ellen, knowing she would not play hardball on the timeline as long as she had the exclusive,” a TV insider told Daily Mail.
Slot machines featuring DeGeneres’s image can be found in at least one MGM casino. The comedian plugged the slot machines in a September episode of her show, two weeks before the shooting.
Campos had five interviews lined up for Thursday, but canceled all of them and vanished, only to reappear in the pre-filmed segment on Ellen. Campos confirmed that it would be his last media appearance. On the same day, Las Vegas police declared that they will hold no further press conferences and referred to Campos as a “victim,” Fox News reported.
Campos’s union president, David Hickey, called the interview with Ellen a “circus.” Hickey would not confirm if MGM pressured Campos to only do the Ellen interview, but acknowledged that the company exerted influence.
“I was in a meeting with MGM’s upper management and they were definitely concerned about how tough someone like Hannity would be on him and they voiced their opinions,” Hickey said.
Campos was specifically instructed to withhold certain information, Hickey confirmed to the Daily Mail.
“Everyone knew he wasn’t to talk about security protocols, staffing or training or give out names of employees,” Hickey said, adding that he sensed that MGM was pressuring Campos to not reveal too much.
“I thought they were being negative, telling him that someone was going to be tough and how they were worried about his health,” Hickey said. “It wasn’t the thing he needed to hear four hours before the interviews were going to begin.”
Campos is at the center of several changes to the official timeline of the shooting relayed by the authorities. In the original timeline, the guard was hailed a hero for interrupting gunman Stephen Paddock’s killing spree nine minutes after he began shooting at the crowd.
But police have since revised that timeline twice—on Oct. 9 and Oct. 13—with the latest timeline alleging that Campos was shot seconds before Paddock began to rain down bullets on the Route 91 Harvest music festival from his 32nd-floor window.
Campos has had an armed security detail at his home since he was cast as the hero who may have mitigated the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.
According to Fox News, the Ellen interview “did nothing to quell rampant speculation and rumors surrounding the horrific attack.”
The Las Vegas Review Journal wrote, “If this really was Campos’s only media appearance, he couldn’t have chosen a more welcoming atmosphere—or had one chosen for him.”
Ellen gave Campos and the building engineer who appeared on the show with him tickets to games with their favorite NFL teams.