(CNN) - A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday responded to a scathing column published in Sunday's Las Vegas Review-Journal that recounted an unfriendly encounter between Reid and the paper's advertising director, in which the Nevada senator told the executive: "I hope you go out of business."
"Clearly he wasn't serious," Reid spokesman Jon Summers told CNN in an e-mailed statement. "Once again, the editors at the Review-Journal got it wrong."
A follow-up phone call to Reid's office seeking more details on the encounter was not immediately returned.
Review-Journal Publisher Sherman Frederick detailed the incident, which occurred on August 26 at a Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
"As [Director of Advertising] Bob [Brown] shook hands with our senior U.S. Senator in what should have been nothing but a gracious business setting," Frederick wrote, "Reid said: 'I hope you go out of business.'"
In the op-ed, Frederick shot back that his paper can "damn sure outlast" Reid.
Frederick called Reid's remark a "full-on threat perpetrated by a bully who has forgotten that he was elected to office to protect Nevadans, not sound like he's shaking them down."
"If he thinks he can push the state's largest newspaper around by exacting some kind of economic punishment in retaliation for not seeing eye to eye with him on matters of politics," Frederick wrote, "I can only imagine how he pressures businesses and individuals who don't have the wherewithal of the Review-Journal."
The Review-Journal has been a vocal critic of the Senate Democratic leader. Sunday's piece is the latest in a series of editorials sharply critical of Reid.
The morning of Reid's confrontation with Brown, the Review-Journal published an editorial entitled "Not Wild About Harry," which accused Reid of "being the face and voice of an increasingly statist, job-killing liberal agenda" and reminded readers of a poll that shows Reid trailing two leading Republican contenders in possible 2010 senatorial match-ups.
According to a Mason-Dixon poll of Nevada voters from earlier this month, Reid faces 11 and five-point deficits against two leading Republican challengers for a 2010 Senate bid.
The Review-Journal endorsed Sen. Reid for a fourth Senate term in 2004, but during Reid's earlier run against Republican John Ensign in 1998, the paper backed Ensign.