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Redskins defend decision to sue City Paper

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Over the weekend, we questioned whether filing a lawsuit against the Washington City Paper meshes with the current effort of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, with the assistance of new P.R. specialist Tony Wyllie, to alter Snyder’s image and reputation in the D.C. market.  Our point was that Snyder’s availability to and interaction with the media during Super Bowl week helps the effort far more than loading up the legal cannon for a fight against a publication with relatively small readership, especially in light of the national attention the suit has generated.

Wyllie has provided a response on behalf of the Redskins and Snyder.

“The lawsuit was a last resort, filed only after much soul searching and looking for any other way to put a stop to unconscionable personal attacks from a writer who, as far as we know, has never been to a Redskins game, has not even been in the stadium, and has never met Daniel Snyder,” Wyllie told PFT via e-mail.  “Most importantly, and an important journalistic point, [Dave] McKenna and [the City Paper] did not call the Redskins for a response or a fact check before publication of the November article.  We saw it for the first time on the day of publication.

“You accurately quote Dan’s interview with PFT Live as to the reasons for the suit: ‘I understand what heat I take. But you can’t call me a criminal. . . .  All they had to do was apologize and run a correction and apology, and they wouldn’t do that.

“Obviously, our goal was not to financially cripple a hedge fund with hundreds of millions of dollars under management.  As you say, ‘The real goal could be to put other publications on notice that Snyder will no longer remain silent when he is criticized with untrue facts serving as the ammo.’  Add to that abusive personal attacks and you have a pretty good explanation of the reasoning behind the suit.

“I would hope that you as a professional journalist, and in fact I would hope that any true journalist, would join us in saying there are some lines that should not be crossed.

“Finally, I have to challenge your statement that filing a lawsuit ‘allows his critics to paint him as ruthless, short-sighted, vindictive and/or mean.’  One might suggest that all those adjectives apply far better to the City Paper columnist who has written more than 50 columns about Dan in the last eight months.

“Which brings me back to your headline, ‘Wrong way to alter Snyder’s image.’  True, but that’s not the purpose.  But when other means have failed, it’s a plea for honesty and fairness.  I hope you will support those goals.”

We definitely support those goals.  The media should strive to be honest and fair at all times.  And while public figures have a tougher time establishing defamation due to the requirement of “actual malice,” that standard can be met with proof that the publisher of the statements knew the information was false or that the publisher acted with reckless disregard to the truth or falsity of the statements.  The easiest way to prove the absence of a “reckless disregard” for the truth is to provide the subject of the piece an opportunity to respond.  If, as Wyllie contends, the City Paper did not contact the Redskins before publishing an apparent opinion piece premised on a slew of negative facts regarding Snyder, the City Paper could have a big problem if any of those negative facts is not accurate.

All that said, there’s a difference between right and reputation.  If the Redskins and Snyder believe that false statements were made about the owner with “actual malice,” it’s “right” to stand up and take action.  Even if the goal isn’t, as Wyllie concedes, to use the lawsuit to alter Snyder’s reputation, the lawsuit against the City Paper will make Wyllie’s broader task even tougher.

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43 Responses to “Redskins defend decision to sue City Paper”
  1. Canyonero says: Feb 15, 2011 7:15 AM

    No, Snyder, you can’t cry “anti-Semitism” and then cram it back in the bottle.

    Of course, this comment will probably get posted then arbitrarily deleted, by the crack PFT screening crew, like half my posts..

    Anyway, Snyder is trying to improve his image by justifying a lawsuit that sullied his image? Laughable.

  2. chapnastier says: Feb 15, 2011 7:23 AM

    The article seemed to do a good job using facts. I mean there were a few sarcastic points in it but for the most part they used Snyder’s history to bash him. And I mean is it really bashing when its the truth? I hope the paper stands firm and beats this lawsuit.

  3. blackqbwhiterb says: Feb 15, 2011 7:25 AM

    Hey Dan- If you want to improve your reputation, TRY DRAFTING SOME OFFENSIVE LINEMEN and a QB, instead of overpaying some fresh new 40 year olds………………..

  4. jc1958cool says: Feb 15, 2011 7:54 AM

    soul searching for dan snyder is a waste of time!!
    just a thought!

  5. shrike58 says: Feb 15, 2011 7:58 AM

    I like Dan Snyder, I really do; he keeps the ‘Skins ineffective.

    The day he realizes that he’s King Midas in reverse will be a sad one for me.

    This idiocy shows that we’re a long way from that happening.

  6. cubano76 says: Feb 15, 2011 8:00 AM

    A stabbing victim, a boobie diddler and a midget w/ a complex. Man, I LOVE THIS TEAM!!!!!

  7. horatio69 says: Feb 15, 2011 8:02 AM

    Oh come on!! Let’s dismantle Wyllie’s assertions one by one:

    1. “The lawsuit was a last resort, filed only after much soul searching and looking for any other way to put a stop to unconscionable personal attacks from a writer who, as far as we know, has never been to a Redskins game, has not even been in the stadium, and has never met Daniel Snyder,”

    Does Wyllie seriously imply that McKenna has no right to criticize Snyder simply because he hasn’t been to a Redskins game? There are 92,000 Redskins fans he could have interviewed, seeing as how he is a journalist and that’s his job. There are thousands of comments on the internet from disgruntled Redskins fans regarding the team.

    Does anyone seriously believe that if McKenna had tried to meet Snyder, that Snyder would have agreed to it in the first place??

    2. Wyllie told PFT via e-mail. “Most importantly, and an important journalistic point, [Dave] McKenna and [the City Paper] did not call the Redskins for a response or a fact check before publication of the November article. We saw it for the first time on the day of publication.”

    Again, if McKenna tried to contact Snyder, I doubt Snyder would have even bothered to take the call.

    3. “Add to that abusive personal attacks and you have a pretty good explanation of the reasoning behind the suit.”

    McKenna’s piece doesn’t really attack Snyder in a personal way…it highlights facts about Snyder’s wrongdoings over the years. Snyder just doesn’t want the public to know about them!!

    4. “I would hope that you as a professional journalist, and in fact I would hope that any true journalist, would join us in saying there are some lines that should not be crossed.”

    True, even though it has not been established that McKenna crossed any lines to begin with. The primary problem here is that Snyder doesn’t like criticism.

    5. “Finally, I have to challenge your statement that filing a lawsuit ‘allows his critics to paint him as ruthless, short-sighted, vindictive and/or mean.’ One might suggest that all those adjectives apply far better to the City Paper columnist who has written more than 50 columns about Dan in the last eight months.

    This is basically Wyllie/Snyder’s way of saying “I may be a poophead but so are you!” Welcome to third grade, folks…

    6. “Which brings me back to your headline, ‘Wrong way to alter Snyder’s image.’ True, but that’s not the purpose. But when other means have failed, it’s a plea for honesty and fairness. I hope you will support those goals.”

    This is pure BS. If the purpose wasn’t to paint a perfect picture of Snyder by eliminating dissenting voices, then what was the point of the lawsuit? McKenna’s piece IS honest, and he’s allowed to put his opinionated spin on top of it…Snyder knows that McKenna has the facts and he just doesn’t want people to know what a scumbag he really is.

    Snyder would feel at home in the USSR, where history was routinely re-written to please whoever was in power at the time. Too bad there’s such a thing an an ‘interwebs’, Danny…

  8. spartyfi says: Feb 15, 2011 8:10 AM

    Flip flopper!

  9. orfskins says: Feb 15, 2011 8:15 AM

    I can only imagine how horrible the article would have been if this writer had actually been to a game at fedex, bought a parking pass and circled the lot for a full hour for a spot that didnt exist, paid $8 a beer, and loyaly watched the same crap product put on the field year in and year out.
    Any fan will agree that there is criminal intent in how snyder has ran our franchise into the ground.

  10. ndallasruss says: Feb 15, 2011 8:17 AM

    Nobody will ever believe that Snyder is anything except a POS that’s out to throw his $$$ at a small paper that he might be able to bully out of business for pointing out some of his many transgressions. He’s put himself WAY beyond being able to change his reputation and others’ perceptions of him. There’s no way he could make people think differently of him personally, nor of all the ways in which he’s taken advantage of fan loyalty at every opportunity. Rather, his only option now is to be the meanest guy in the room and see where that gets him.

    I’ve lived in Northern Virginia for almost seven years now, and I’ve been amazed at what Skins fans will let him get away with. Given the product that he puts on the field, the only chance he has to ever be liked in this area is with his actions off the field. If he were genuinely committed to the fans, and cared about being embraced in the community, he’d have to recognize that all of the things linked in that article have helped to get his relationship with the fans to where it is today. He should look at that list as a checklist for potential improvement, rather than just others picking on him. Somehow, he manages to make himself look even worse though, and he still hasn’t figured out how to make friends and (positively) influence people in the community.

    One thing is for sure: I definitely wouldn’t want to be his PR guy. That job would have to be akin to the band that continued to play as the Titanic sank.

  11. jimmysee says: Feb 15, 2011 8:23 AM

    Dan Snyder is a public figure. He has a very high hill to climb before he can recover anything in a defamation suit. In our society where there is a broad right of free speech, public figures must develop a thick skin. It goes with the territory. The loser in such an action, no matter what the outcome, is Dan Snyder. Today’s paper is tomorrow’s fish wrap, unless attention continues to be focused on it by garbage suits like this.

  12. gdonz14 says: Feb 15, 2011 8:24 AM

    Had no idea about these articles and the controversy. But thanks to the continued PR amateur hour the skins org is running – at the behest of the kid in charge – I’m going to read every article from this angry writer with the Podunk Press. Any press is good press – right Dan!?!? You fool.

  13. realitypolice says: Feb 15, 2011 8:24 AM

    I read the article- there are several items in there that constitute accusations of criminal behavior.

    If they are true, or if the author can at least present enough proof to justify making them, so be it.

    If they are not true, and Snyder can prove they are not true, and it is found that the author made them without proof, that’s libel.

    Put your personal feelings about Snyder aside, and try to understand the law.

    The first amendment, despite what many people on here think, is not a blanket protection that allows people to say whatever they want about whomever they want.

    I lived in DC for many years, and always liked the City Paper because they were willing to push the limits. But even I draw the line at unfounded accusations of criminal behavior.

  14. east96st says: Feb 15, 2011 8:31 AM

    Here’s what’s absolutely hysterical. Yearsa ago Snyder accused his groundskeepers of “trying to kill” the players and fired them. They sued for libel. Snyder’s legal team crafted this response:

    “Snyder’s team told the court no one could possibly have thought he literally meant the Jenkins were trying to kill the players. “The obvious exaggeration that the groundskeepers are ‘trying to kill the players with their crappy fields,’ even plaintiffs must concede, can not be understood in its literal, factual sense of an accusation of attempted murder,” Snyder’s lawyers wrote. Underscoring that point, they also wrote: “A reasonable reader could not understand defendant’s remarks to accuse plaintiffs of any wrongdoing which would rise to the level of a defamatory harm to reputation.”

    Lawyers for Snyder also argued that the Jenkins—who wanted him to retract his comments—couldn’t be allowed to win. “Injunctions requiring publication of a retraction are unconstitutional as well as impermissible since there is an adequate remedy at law,” they wrote in a footnote.”

    Classic case of an egomanic, spoiled rich boy wanting one set of rules for his “free speech” and another for the “little people”. Please ask Wyllie to spin that next time you have the misfortune of speaking with the Redskins organization.

  15. iluv2play76 says: Feb 15, 2011 8:32 AM

    As a Redskin fan and ticket holder who has not renewed and probably won’t let me be clear we don’t care about Snyder’s image we want to win football games. If you could put together a team capable of that you wouldn’t need to do anything else. You’re trying to change our perception of you when the reality is our team sucks. How about you focus on our team winning and I guarantee you if you can do that we will like you. Or if you want a quick fix how about you sell the team to the Cooke Family and you will instantly be a hero in the eyes of everybody in DC.

  16. coys10 says: Feb 15, 2011 8:41 AM

    Daniel Synder has engaged in many losing propositions, this lawsuit is just his latest foray. Feel bad for Redskin fans to have this knucklehead running your organization.

  17. psueddie says: Feb 15, 2011 8:42 AM

    “Obviously, our goal was not to financially cripple a hedge fund with hundreds of millions of dollars under management. ”

    Well gee, I guess Dan Snyder shouldn’t have insinuated that exact thing in his letter threatening legal action.

    But why is this shocking to anyone? Dan Snyder is a reprehensible human being. He and his crack staff of legal and PR gurus and simply providing more and more evidence of such each and every day.

    Not one thing in that original article is false. Not one. This suit is a waste of time and money. Hopefully he’ll have to cover the City Paper’s legal fees as well once this farce is over with.

  18. jc1958cool says: Feb 15, 2011 8:47 AM

    frivulous lawsuits, you hear the republicans bitch all the time, well there you go!!! i’m sure snyder IS one of those turds! double standard turd!!

  19. toe4 says: Feb 15, 2011 8:48 AM

    Snyder, you are a tool. If you want people to stop thinking of you as a tool, you need to stop doing “toolish” things.

    Complaining about people saying mean things about you is bad enough, but actually suing someone because he hurt your feelings? Dude… you are a tool.

    No amount of PR justification will change the fact that you act like a tool therefore you are a tool.

  20. richm2256 says: Feb 15, 2011 8:48 AM

    Ron Zigler feels bad for Tony Wyllie

  21. anarchopurplism says: Feb 15, 2011 8:55 AM

    Dan Snyder to-do list

    -Sue City Paper……check
    -Sue PFT…….in process
    -Eliminate all enemies to pursue truth…….spring 2011

  22. boysroll says: Feb 15, 2011 8:57 AM

    this owner is the biggest joke in the league. i read the article and everything in there is accurate and fact. The Editor in Chief of the Paper requested to sit down with 4skin management many times but she said they were not interested in discussing the article at all and filing a lawsuit.

    Hey weasel boy…you had an opportunity to sit down with the heads of the newspaper and discuss the article but balked. you decided to act like a moron which we all know you are to try and sue which for whatever reason seems to be your tactic time and again. I know…when you are short your whole life and get beat up at school you have to lash out but get over it punk.

    if my owner acted like that i would jump ship no doubt and hit him right where it counts…$$$$’s.

  23. bealeman says: Feb 15, 2011 9:01 AM

    Just like our huge government. They don’t want resistance or criticizm. Snyder thinks he’s Mubarrak.

  24. ninjapleazee says: Feb 15, 2011 9:03 AM

    like I said before.. Skins are trying to make back the 100 million they blew on Fat Albert

  25. lbijake says: Feb 15, 2011 9:04 AM

    I wonder how much the City paper’s readership has increased since this flap with Snyder. They should probably give him a cut of the increased ad revenues. But I do not want to give Danny Boy any ideas as he might sue for that also.

  26. paul82461 says: Feb 15, 2011 9:07 AM

    Hey Dan, dont get sue happy trying to recover some of the Haynesworth debacle. Move on, you have more important things like making the playoffs to worry about.

  27. joepags says: Feb 15, 2011 9:08 AM

    lets get this straight, the REDSKINS didnt sue anyone, tha DOPE SYNDER did!!! this clown needs to sell MY team so we can contend again!!

  28. baddegg says: Feb 15, 2011 9:11 AM

    blackqbwhiterb says: Feb 15, 2011 7:25 AM

    Hey Dan- If you want to improve your reputation, TRY DRAFTING SOME OFFENSIVE LINEMEN and a QB, instead of overpaying some fresh new 40 year olds………………..

    This really is the bottom line. Fans of the Redskins will “like” Dan Snyder as long as he does his part to help this team win. Honestly, he could continue to be a jerk but if the team won a Super Bowl, everyone would just spin it as “that’s what it takes to win.” (see Bellicheck, Parcells, etc.)

    Fans of other teams will always hate him no matter what.

    So focus on winning…that’s what will help you in Redskin land and forget about everyone else.

  29. baddegg says: Feb 15, 2011 9:14 AM

    @boysroll…what if your owner, due to hubris and greed, was ready to put fans who traveled and paid to see the Super Bowl in seats that could collapse and maim or kill them? Or then when he was found out, shuffled those people off to some bar to watch the game on TV and tried to lowball them to appease them.

    If your owner was that big of a jerk, would you “bail on the team?” Just curious.

  30. cmich2006 says: Feb 15, 2011 9:19 AM

    Snyder is a tool and bad for the NFL

  31. boysroll says: Feb 15, 2011 9:32 AM

    hey baddegg….our owner gave those fans an area to see the game and comp;d them on everything….secondly, the league is giving them freebies and compensation. two separate issues buddy……I agree it was a total f up but at least they are trying to work something out. Your owner would have sued the poor fans that did not get a seat on top of it all. Or served them 1 yr old spoiled peanuts from a bankrupt airline as their freebies..LMAO.

    Our owner does not sue fans or papers. he acts like a man because he played the sport and knows what is involved. Your owner is a short weasel who was beat up at school daily and is lashing out now because he has the means. That to me falls under the category of a LOSER!!!! I have a feeling you might be related to him too.

  32. leonitas21 says: Feb 15, 2011 9:33 AM

    I realize I’m in the minority here, but I am so sick of the criticism that Snyder gets. I am a die hard Skins fan, and there are certainly things that bother me about Snyder, especially in his early years as owner. What bothers me though is that the D.C. journalist use Snyder’s past to judge his present.

    I still hear the same old idiot fans and journalist rake him over the coals for all the bad decisions he’s made recently. Well, believe it or not, he hasn’t been the one in the drivers seat. He only signs the checks. Cerratto was the driving force behind the Haynseworth deals, Gibbs was behind the Lloyd, Archuletta, and Randle El deals.

    Now, one could make the argument that he is the one who hired those two knuckleheads so its his responsibility and I would agree to an extent.

    Point is, if you live in this area, there is an obvious bias against him for being an owner that didn’t know how to run the business early on. Now that he has made changes for the fans, and he has hired people that make the decisions for him, people still want to harp on those early decisions.

    I’m not by any means saying that I like him as an owner, just that the journalists around here in D.C. scorn him over and over for things that even he can’t control.

    That can only hinder the development of the fan base. I also understand that he did in a way dig his own grave, but I think it’s time to start judging him in the present.

    Oh, and the writer that wrote the article is the ultimate hater. He’s like Jason Whitlock except he doesn’t just talk about race all the time, he talks about how much he dislikes Snyder.

  33. skins23 says: Feb 15, 2011 9:34 AM

    boysroll says:
    Feb 15, 2011 8:57 AM

    if my owner acted like that i would jump ship no doubt and hit him right where it counts…$$$$’s.

    Of course you would… you’re a Cowboys “fan” – AKA Bandwagoner.

    Snyder isn’t the best owner, but he does love the Redskins and he does want to win. He just hasn’t figured out how to do that yet. But he is getting better in his methods.

    The Redskins are bigger than one man and one owner. I’ll never “jump ship” due to the performance of one person, even if it is the owner. I’ve been a Skins fans for life… have been before Snyder and will continue to be, with or without Snyder.

    I honestly could care less about all this City Paper nonsense…it’s just more ammo for haters like yourself to spew venom, which is fine… knock yourself out.

    Not sure a Cowboys fan should be screaming about other teams’ owners, however.

    Does
    Anybody feel
    Like
    Loaning
    A
    Seat?

  34. closisgood says: Feb 15, 2011 9:51 AM

    Snyder is a reason the NFL is popular all year ’round.
    If it were only and always about what happens on the field, the NFL would not be what it was.
    Sites like these covering stores like these has made the NFL a year round sport.

    It’s our soap opera.
    Sports is the sacks answer to vags who follow celeb gossip.

  35. toe4 says: Feb 15, 2011 10:00 AM

    leonitas21,

    I live in the midwest. I know of the Redskins only from their transactions and their win-loss record. Snyder does indeed sign the paychecks therefore the buck stops with him. He is ultimately responsible for everything the Redskins do.

    You may not know this but the rest of the country kind of looks at the Skins as a bit of a joke.

    Daniel Snyder did that.

  36. baddegg says: Feb 15, 2011 10:05 AM

    @ boysroll

    Your last post is — to use your phrasing — not “accurate and fact.” In fact, I may have to call up my relative Dan Snyder and sue you for it! :-)
    Let’s break it down.

    hey baddegg….our owner gave those fans an area to see the game and comp;d them on everything….

    WOW, he’s such a great guy…what are those spoiled fans complaining about!

    secondly, the league is giving them freebies and compensation. two separate issues buddy……I agree it was a total f up but at least they are trying to work something out. Your owner would have sued the poor fans that did not get a seat on top of it all. Or served them 1 yr old spoiled peanuts from a bankrupt airline as their freebies..LMAO.

    Well, you may have a point there, lol. Bottom line — I’m not a Snyder fan buddy…as a Redskins fan, I don’t like what he’s done to the team. But I just need to bust your chops back because “The Jer” is just as crappy in my book.

    Our owner does not sue fans or papers. he acts like a man because he played the sport and knows what is involved. Your owner is a short weasel who was beat up at school daily and is lashing out now because he has the means.

    Do you have proof of this? Prepare yourself for a lawsuit!

    That to me falls under the category of a LOSER!!!! I have a feeling you might be related to him too.

    Your feeling would be incorrect. If I was related to DS, I would have gobs of money and would not be posting on a message board.

    Good day.

  37. FoozieGrooler says: Feb 15, 2011 10:07 AM

    Why does this surprise anybody?

    Didn’t Dan Snyder sue his own season ticket holders who couldn’t afford their season ticket plans?

  38. psueddie says: Feb 15, 2011 10:27 AM

    leonitas21 – If you believe Snyder’s claims that all the recent poor decisions were made by people other than him, then you truly are a blind homer.

    All the player moves, particularly Haynesworth, reek of your typical Danny logic – win the off-season with an expensive, ill-advised move and we will eventually win the league.

    Just as Snyder is claiming this suit wasn’t his idea but his advisors, all the recent moves come from one place…the top. Nothing is done inside that organization without him being the driving force.

  39. horatio69 says: Feb 15, 2011 10:50 AM

    leonitas21,

    It’s unfair to judge Snyder based on his past actions?? I guess Obama better call up Ahmadinejad, Qaddafi, and Kim Jong Il and tell them everything’s just peachy between the US and their nefarious regimes.

    And I don’t buy the BS that Cerrato was at fault for this team…Snyder hired him because he is a lapdog and did what Snyder wanted him to do…Snyder DOES make the decisions for this team but wants to give the appearance that he does not.

    Just ask Lavar Arrington…even Saint Joe Gibbs had to “to talk to someone on the phone” prior to responding to Lavar’s offer to buy his contract out…indicating that Gibbs did NOT have the final say on personnel matters, contracty to what Snyder has claimed.

    If Snyder really were a decent person, then he should have recognized his wrongdoings years ago and made changes…instead of waiting for a newspaper to point them out to him.

  40. mystictate says: Feb 15, 2011 11:21 AM

    i think fans should find a way to print up thousands of copies of the guide to angry redskin fans and pass them out at every redskins game!!

  41. rfkdays says: Feb 15, 2011 1:50 PM

    Danny Boy’s ability to transcend ordinary stupidity is astounding. I can’t wait until the City Paper’s legal team uses the logic of the “Jenkins argument” against the height-challenged gnome. What will the dwarf say when he looses? Who will the pint-sized pudge blame then? How long will it take the runt to fire Whyllie and blame him for these transgressions?

    Danny is a feckless steward of our team (and he’s really diminuative, too). He has now officially made us the most laughable sports franchise on the planet. In case he doesn’t know, they don’t give out prizes for coming up short.

  42. bealeman says: Feb 15, 2011 2:24 PM

    RFK Says: Right on brother.,

  43. dguild says: Feb 17, 2011 10:36 PM

    So when the Redskins lose 21-3, are reporters expected to call Daniel Snyder for ‘fact check’ and comment before writing about the result? This is no different as the article was simply a collection of well documented facts.

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