City Desk

To Our Readers

In the past couple of days, we have received inquiries about a threat of litigation by Redskins owner Dan Snyder relating to a Nov. 19, 2010 article, “The Cranky Redskin Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder,” by columnist Dave McKenna. While we did not hear directly from Snyder, Redskins General Counsel David Donovan complained about that article and others in a letter to Atalaya Capital Management, an investment company that owns Creative Loafing, Inc., the parent company of Washington City Paper.

After identifying certain items that Snyder contends were incorrect, the letter to Atalaya accused City Paper and McKenna of “character assassination” and stated that Snyder was considering all of his options, including litigation. “Mr. Snyder has more than sufficient means to protect his reputation.... We presume that defending such litigation would not be a rational strategy for an investment fund such as yours. Indeed, the cost of litigation would presumably quickly outstrip the asset value of the Washington City Paper,” the letter read.

Atalaya responded on its behalf and then referred Donovan’s letter to us, since the investment fund owners are not involved in the news we publish or our editorial decision making. We reviewed the complaints carefully, as we would with a suggestion by anyone that we had gotten something wrong. We believe we have the facts right.

Nevertheless, we have offered Snyder the opportunity to publish a guest column responding to the article, we proposed that he meet with our editor to discuss his concerns, and we invited him to provide information demonstrating that what we published was false. If we were to conclude we got something wrong, we would correct it. We also emphatically reject the suggestion that we stop reporting on Snyder or that we pull McKenna, who has written for City Paper since 1986, from reporting on Snyder and/or the Redskins.

The only response to our offer was a letter earlier this week from Patty Glaser, a prominent Hollywood lawyer, demanding that certain documents be retained for litigation. We have referred that letter to our longtime media counsel, Seth Berlin, at Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz. Although we had not reported on this while waiting for a response from Snyder, we do so now.

It’s extremely unfortunate that Snyder believes that it is appropriate to threaten City Paper with litigation because he objects to our coverage. As a 30-year old newspaper and vibrant website committed to both in-depth news reporting and full-throated commentary, we do not believe that using the court system to stifle or chill free speech is ever appropriate. In this case, it’s especially shabby: As a well known public figure, Snyder has more than ample ability and resources to respond to coverage he does not like, including through his significant public relations apparatus. Lest there be any doubt, we have offered him a forum to do so in our pages, and that invitation stands. Should he elect to actually file a lawsuit, we have directed our counsel to defend the case vigorously.

Amy Austin is publisher of Washington City Paper.

Full text of all three letters is below:

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  • atom ant

    And I thought I had it bad when I lived in Cincinnati which has the misfortune of having to deal with the "god awful" owners of the Bungals (er, Bengals). As was noted by another individual commenting on this story - "Skins Fans, I feel your pain."

  • Joe

    Thanks for Greg Williams; an incredible Coach! -signed The Who Dat Nation, World Champions.

    If the Six Flags story is true, you can rest assured that your actions in abandoning a completely new theme park to lie in ruins (still is), means that you abandon Americans during catastrophes... I'm going to investigate every business your a part of and recommend to all New Orleans to stay away...

  • Dan

    Check out the Facebook page "Redskins Fans in Support of Dave McKenna" and use the "LIKE" button to vote for freedom of the press and against corporate bullies!

  • Oliver Adriance

    I just want to say good luck. We're all counting on you.

  • Scott

    Please set up a defense fund, as someone suggested. Provide a means for donors to specify a charity that will receive any of the unused money. We can support free speech, stand up to a bully and support charity.

  • kob

    Bravo City Paper.

  • clar

    Snyder should sell the team and find an activity about which he knows something. Does he not realize he has ruined the Redskins and the people of this area pretty much hate him? A great organization has become his play thing and it has not worked. Only he can't see it.

  • David Hughes

    The lawsuit lacks merit. His action here suggests that Snyder is nothing more than a rank, fearful, insecure bully, throwing his weight around to ease the inadequacy of his tiny manhood. If that is the case, he is truly a sad sack. His must be a confused and unhappy existence. May he lose quickly, and retreat to contemplate the profits he has made from the use of a trademark that quite a few Native Americans view as a racist vestige of another kind of holocaust. Irony, thy name is Danny.

  • alex

    Not caring much about the Skins anymore since Snyder ran the team of my childhood into the ground in his incompetent quest for self-glorification, I had missed this incipient bruhaha and the McKenna article that inspired it before Dannyboy himself called my attention to it with his recent bogus actions. Congratulations assclown, once again the colossality of your boundless rapaciousness is exceeded only by that of your utter cluelessness.

  • Skins Fan OBX

    It appears Danny has his goon squad on the boards trying to defend him, just like Mubarak sending his bullies into the square to try and end the protests... and it will work about as well. Get a life guys, and find a new job. Guys like Snyder can't do nearly as much damage without their legions of minions doing the dirty work.

  • Skins Fan OBX

    It ap.pears Danny has his goon squad on the boards trying to defend him, just like Mubarak sending his bullies into the square to try and end the protests... and it will work about as well. Get a life guys, and find a new job. Guys like Snyder can't do nearly as much damage without their legions of minions doing the dirty work

  • John

    It appears Danny has his goon squad on the boards trying to defend him, just like Mubarak sending his bullies into the square to try and end the protests... and it will work about as well. Get a life guys, and find a new job. Guys like Snyder can't do nearly as much damage without their legions of minions doing the dirty work

  • msr

    Danny boy is a spoiled little brat Probably was picked on all his life(cause he is a spoiled brat)He stole the team when Mr Cookes estate was bought out by Danny (bribed)

    Danny Boy should cherish the Super Bowl Trophies he has Danny you will NEVER win the big one

    Too Greedy

  • Ray Paseur

    Snyder doesn't need to draw our attention to this kind of adverse publicity. The Redskins are as good as their record. Always have been, always will be. Wonder if the ticket holders can be certified as an action class?

  • Obvious

    Tom, there is public record evidence that "Snyder Communications" forged many, many, many signatures of people and illegally changing their long distance carriers in Florida. That's what the article is referencing. I got a great idea - let's do discovery into that case and write articles about exactly what took place in Florida, the people involved, and what Danny's role was. This should be great fun...more fun than watching his team play!

  • trentsteel

    As a lifelong NY Giants fan, I think it is appropriate that Dan Snyder remain as owner. However, as a fan of justice, I think the City Paper should begin a collection for a legal defense fund. I would donate.

  • John

    I support the Washington City Paper. Newspapers have pretty broad rights to say what they like and if they really crossed a line, then Snyder will have a chance to prove it. As he says, he has ample resources to protect himself.

    What I did do this morning was cancel my season tickets. I got them for 2010 after years on the waiting list. Nothing has hurt my loyalty to the team more than being a season ticket holder and watching my guests slip and fall in the mud and risk their health crossing that bridge from the grey lot because he want's the parking revenue but is too cheap to put in a flight of stairs and a pedestrian bridge so that thousands of people who pay $30 a game in addition to their ticket costs to park have a safe walk from the lot to the stadium.

    I was seriously torn about giving up my tickets after that experience. This public disgrace foisted upon my beloved Washington by Dan Snyder made it easy.

  • thomann213

    TO: Rick Mangus

    I refer you to the posting by MacK of February 2nd, 2011 @ 7:07pm posting #11 for the best and most clear-eyed legal analysis of this situation. The guy nails it!

  • cam

    Keep fighting, City Paper. Dan Snyder is a disgusting human being, but more relevant to our previously beloved Redskins, a terrible owner and businessman. Reading McKenna's column and Snyder's response have sealed the fact I will never set foot in FedEx Field as long as he is the owner, nor will I contribute to any obviously-Snyder owned or linked business. I'm regretting the Redskins sweatshirt I bought last year because it.

    And seriously, Tom? You're really the only one here who should be ashamed. Your comment is ridiculous, which is being kind.

  • John

    Hating Dan Snyder is no reason to publish innuendo or to resort to slander. To the commenter above who doesn't understand the difference between convicted and accused, it's very simple. You can't call someone a criminal if there is no proof. You THINK he did it? Is that all you have?

    Is Snyder unlikeable? You bet. But this article and the lack of an apology makes the paper look small time.

  • Rhon

    Can't the team be have a new owner? Do we really have to put up with an moron like Dan Snyder? The City Paper may have stretched the facts but it's for a good cause. Run Dan out of town on a rail!

  • Jay

    Snyder and Haynesworth are twin sons of different mother, spoiled by the fortunes of success, reacting as aggressive bullies when anyone attempts to criticize their behavior.

  • http://twitter.com/WiscSportsTalk James

    Read through everything there is on this, researched the hell out of it too and the only thing I get out of this is that Snyder is a huge pussy who can't handle the realism when it is smacked in his face. Either laugh it off, or realize you're worthless.

    Snyder might as well sue every Redskin fan, because from what I got, they all hate him.

  • Fred

    I have long despised The Danny, just about as long as I've known of him. But thanks to his promotion of the brilliant City Paper biographical sketch of him, and his bully-boy 'I'll spend you into the ditch' lawsuit threat, it becomes clear that he is worthy of far more contempt than I could have ever guessed.

    It's too bad there aren't enough ticket holders to cancel so as to put his team ownership into bankruptcy, but a few game boycotts and mostly empty stands would be a nice message to send to this despicable troll. Washington NFL fans' best hope for something better would be for his going bankrupt and getting out of town.

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  • john

    Shame on Snyder. This letter from his attorney is childish and only cements the allegation that he is just a little person whose only talent in life is to somehow weasel money out of people. It's sad, really.
    That letter is a classic. You should retroactively include it in your article under the letter N for the "No Friends" that this guy has.
    By the way, Snyder is apparently media savvy enough to realize that his "lawsuit" has called national attention to the article and will cause more damage to his "reputation" than the paper itself. I'm from Baltimore, and I had never even heard of the DC City Paper until this thing went viral.

  • GingerKid

    Everyone posting comments on this article defending Snyder are loyalists & corporate PR plants working for him. Don't pay ANY attention to them. The true Redskin fans know this guy has done nothing but distroy this franchise. If he so concerned about CP defaming his character may I suggest that he take them up on their offer and counter the article with facts & and evidence. The great thing about freedom of the press is that Snyder can write a rebuttal and back it up. That is, if he even can. The fact that he's threatening costly legal action instead, giving more reason to believe that he knows there is more truth to this article than he is willing to publicly admit.

  • Dan Word

    Here's a suggestion how Danny 'Napolean" Snyder can really make life difficult for The City Paper. Rather than suing the paper,implement the very same business plan he used for the Redskins - just buy the City Paper too and run into the ground,just as he has done with our beloved Redskins. I'm sure he can chase away as many fans of the paper as he has done with our beloved Redskins. Hey, maybe Danny could rehire Vinnie to be the City Paper's Editor-in-Chief. Time to get over it all Danny! We are so over you!

  • Hail To The Litigations

    "...defending such litigation would not be a rational strategy..."

    Are you kidding me??? Why doesn't Snyder just go full-on Mafioso and say: "That's a real nice paper you got there...it would be a shame if anything happened to it"

    I never knew that "shakedown" was an effective lawsuit strategy.

  • bobb

    dan and his buddy tom c---short peopl w/ short fuses and a overinflated sense of self worth

  • Rob

    Atalaya Capital Management (Creative Loafing, Inc) and the Washington City Paper staff. Many DC residents are proud you are fighting back to this bully!

    I will no longer set foot in FedEx field or buy any Redskins merchandise again as long as Snyder is the owner of my beloved Redskins which has been turned into a really sleazy and tacky organization...Dan and his yes men have taken it a long way from a public trust and treasure.

    Skins fans - DO NOT financially support this maniac. Make him move the team (we will get another team) or sell the team.

    Go Caps, Wiz, Nats, Mystics and DC United!

  • http://redskinznation.com GOD OF WAR

    I read this whole page and all I got was gas.

    Some of you people need a lobotomy, the rest of you rule.

    Lobotomy people step to my left so the rest of us cal point and laugh at you.

    Dan Snyder is well within his right to have his day in court because of the irresponsible actions by the journalist. I will applaud when Dan wins. And I will find all of you who you here that blame Dan for standing up for his rights, one at a time, and meet you with my camera and laugh in your faces, post it on youtube and watch you cry.

    HARHARHAR!!!HTTR!!!

  • varmintito

    tom @ 4:34 pm feb 3 -- You asked "how is Danny supposed to prove that he didn't forge someone else's name? Can you prove, for example, that you didn't ever write a bad check. You need to prove that he did the criminal act."

    The correct answer is: That's Snyder's problem, not CP's. A public figure defamation plaintiff has the burden of proving that the statement at issue is false. Leaving aside the fact that any such lawsuit would be utterly meritless, in seeking to defend Snyder, you've also demonstrated why it would almost certainly be unwinnable. Nicely played.

    The big picture is even clearer -- Snyder's threats multiplied the readership of an ultra-scathing article to an incalculable degree. The article was three friggin months old, and was in a local alt weekly. Now it's getting linked to by dozens of blogs, and the overwhelming tenor of the blog entries is that Snyder is a thin-skinned, narcissistic jerk.

    Textbook example of how not to manage public relations.

  • Slap

    I commend Amy Austin and Dave McKenna on their stand. The only way to treat a bully is to look him straight in the eye and then punch him in the mouth.

  • Redskins fan

    I hope this idiot goes bankrupt soon with all these "litigation" he's filing. Then I just wish someone from the Rooney family or Kraft will buy the redskins. We will Finally have an OWNER, who is smart and considerate to their fans. We don't want big name players on our team but good players that help us win. Please,someone give this guy a good ranting so he understands!

  • Joel Mark

    Hey Dan Snyder,

    Fuck you!

    Love,

    Joel in Hawaii

  • Truth Hurts

    @ tired: Just saw your post (#146). Funny how Snyder's lame assault on CP has united virtually all regular readers/commenters. I see drez, noodlez, indeed, typical dcbs, tired, th, and others defending CP the same way as we might defend family members.

    In short, we quarrel (bitterly at times) among ourselves. But may God have mercy on arrogant outsiders who attack our online family.

  • sj

    " You need to prove that he did that criminal act."
    No, Tom, they don't. He needs to prove that he didn't for his action to succeed.

  • r

    Strike while the iron is hot. That picture of Snyder with the devil horns would make for a fine T- shirt. Off them for sale.

    Profit.

    I'd buy one.

  • Snyder is AIDS

    God of War: It will be difficult for you to take pictures of anyone with Snyder's balls in your mouth and his finger up your ass. You can however, return to Extremeskins and perform your ritual circle-jerk with your fellow tossers in protest to the treatment your heroe, the malignant dwarf, is receiving on a daily basis. Have fun with that...

  • patrick

    shouldn't the city paper counter sue snyder now? He has made several statements about the 'lies' in the article, specifically, that the article included derogatory statements about his wife, her disease, and her position as league spokeman for breast cancer.

    I'm not attorney, but this would seem to be slander. Then again, wouldn't it be ironic if they were both claiming first amendment rights as means to defeat said law suits?

    Don't you think Dan's lawyers have to be questioning what they are doing? Do they really think they have a case?

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  • Andrew Sonner

    This suit is groundless as anyone who is familiar with New York Times v Sullivan will tell you. He is without a doubt a "public" person who has a huge bar to overcome in order to prevail, one that he hasn't a ghost of a chance of surmounting.

    als

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  • MT

    > The City Paper should issue a retraction of the devil picture, as it is insulting to devils who can actually get things done.
    >
    > The City Paper should replace the devil picture with Snyder's face drawn on a douche bag. It is a far more accurate depiction as Snyder is, in fact, a total & complete douche bag. Talk about a moniker with some unused mileage, to wit:
    >
    > Dan The Douche Bag Snyder
    > Super Douche Snyder
    > DANdy Douche
    > or perhaps rename the Douche Bag, the Dan Bag
    >
    > If you go to a Redskins game, does the ticket bar you from chanting "Douche Bag Dan"? If so, could they eject 90,000 fans chanting it?
    >
    > I aim to find out.

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