When I opened up The Washington Post this morning and saw that Dan Snyder had ‘written,’ an op-ed defending his ridiculous lawsuit against The Washington City Paper I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I also didn’t know whether to write about it or just ignore it. Perhaps no one on earth has ever deserved to be ignored more than Dan Snyder.
The problem is he can’t be ignored. He is relentlessly annoying and he has access to the media—any and all media in Washington—whenever he wants it. That doesn’t mean that access helps him. In fact, quite the opposite because every time he or one of his flunkies—today his latest overpaid lawyers were writing and talking on his behalf—opens up his or her mouth they just re-prove the point Dave McKenna was making in his now famous City Paper piece of last November.
It is almost pointless to revisit the claims Snyder is making in his bully lawsuit. Here’s what it boils down to: McKenna wrote a lengthy piece making fun of Snyder for being a bad owner and Snyder decided THIS was the guy to pick on. He wasn’t going to pick on The Washington Post because The Post still has plenty of money and lawyers on staff who deal with nuisance libel suits all the time so he decided—as bullies do—to pick on the little guy.
If you go back to the first letter Snyder’s lawyers sent to The City Paper it SAID we have money and you don’t so you better apologize before we spend you into bankruptcy defending yourself against this law suit. That’s the legal version of ‘give me your lunch money or I’ll beat you up.’
After the threats came Snyder’s media tour of radio row at The Super Bowl, complete with claims that he HAD to file the lawsuit because McKenna had attacked his wife, a cancer survivor and he simply couldn’t tolerate that. Of course the story in no way attacks Tanya Snyder, it simply says that she was part of the ‘new Dan Snyder,’ campaign, going on various shows to say he’d learned his lessons and was surrounded now by better people.
Snyder, who is accusing McKenna of making things up, simply made that up. About the only person who interviewed him that day who hadn’t done enough homework to know he had made that up was WFAN’s Mike Francesa, who thought attacking a cancer survivor was simply a terrible thing. He’s right—it is terrible. Except McKenna didn’t come close to doing it.
Then Snyder played the anti-semitic card, claiming the drawing that accompanied the piece depicting him as the devil was anti-semitic. He also said the lawsuit was the idea of his hapless new PR director (of about a year now) Tony Wyllie who took over for the equally hapless Karl Swanson.
Wyllie was responsible for much of the ‘new,’ Dan Snyder campaign: encouraging Snyder to talk to reporters more; doing silly, self-serving TV interviews with clueless interviewers; inviting the media to charity ribbon cuttings to remind people of all the wonderful things Snyder does for charity. He also called reporters who haven’t been nice to Snyder in the past to take them to lunch to convince them of the error of their ways.
My pal Sally Jenkins got a call and lunch. I got a call but no lunch. Damn.
Wyllie’s strategy wasn’t bad—especially after all the years of Swanson and the beyond-hapless Vinny Cerrato playing bad cop to Snyder’s worse cop. Somewhere along the line you need a good cop, especially when your team has been consistently mediocre, except when it has been awful.
A pause here for a quick word on Cerrato, who crawled out from under his rock a few weeks ago to appear on Mike Wise’s radio show. I like Wise, I really do, but why ANYONE would give Cerrato five minutes of airtime (or any space in the newspaper) is seriously beyond me. At one point when Wise, his co-host Holden Kushner and their producer Chris Johnson (a SERIOUSLY aggrieved Redskins fan) were trying to pin Cerrato down on something—anything—one of them asked Cerrato whose decision it was to sign Jeff George.
“I can’t recall,” Cerrato answered.
Jeez, all he had to do was add, “Senator,” to that line.
At one point during his Super Bowl tour Snyder said on one radio station something almost exactly like this: “Tony, who is, as you know, African-American, just felt we couldn’t let the anti-semitism involved here continue without defending ourselves.”
Oh, okay so because Tony is African-American he qualifies as an expert on anti-semitism? Does that mean that I can understand what it is like to be African-American because I’m Jewish? Maybe—MAYBE—one percent because Jews and African-Americans do still face prejudice, even in today’s society. That’s about it.
It is worth noting that the newly re-filed lawsuit makes no references to anti-semitism or McKenna picking on a cancer survivor—the two major reasons Snyder cited in February for filing the lawsuit. It picks on three facts, claiming that what McKenna wrote isn’t true. From what I’m told if McKenna got anything wrong he was technically wrong. For example: Snyder’s company paying a fine for forging documents may not make SNYDER the actual forger.
Here’s LD’s problem: in libel suits technicalities don’t matter. The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant was not only completely wrong but was wrong because of malice. One lawyer I heard on the 106.7 The Fan on Tuesday predicted that Snyder had ‘zero,’ percent chance of winning the suit and, pointing to the original letter, said this is clearly a bully lawsuit.
Then he said something that I thought was very smart: “The right way to do this is to use your access to the media FIRST. Dan Snyder has complete access to anyone and everyone in the Washington media including The Washington Post just by picking up a phone. If all he wants is to make the point that McKenna had it wrong, he can make that point through the media. A lawsuit should be his last resort. In Snyder’s case it was his first resort.”
The lawyer—whose name I can’t remember and can’t find on The 106.7 The Fan website because it is full of headlines about Snyder’s lawyer coming on to try to clear things up (oh please)—is very smart. He knows and everyone knows this has to do with Snyder proving that he’s richer and more powerful than The City Paper and can bully the paper and McKenna into an apology or a retraction and that will somehow prove that he’s RIGHT that the media is out to get him.
Perhaps Snyder should call up his op-ed (written for him apparently by Lanny Davis, who once represented Bill Clinton and has now officially reached the nadir of his career by going to work for Snyder) and read the comments about a piece that carries HIS byline. I only read about the first 100 posts but public opinion, after Davis stated his case for Snyder as eloquently as he could, was running about 100-to-1 against Snyder. My guess is the next 900 didn’t get much better.
So, apparently everyone is out to get Snyder. There’s an old saying: If you think everyone in the world is crazy, maybe you should look in the mirror. Of course there’s another old saying: If no one likes you then at least you know you’re not paranoid.
Congratulations, Dan. You’re not paranoid.