It is nearly impossible to live in or around Washington, DC and not be aware of Dan Snyder’s $2 million libel lawsuit against the Washington City Paper. In the suit, he alleges that the paper has an “ongoing campaign” to “smear his business and personal reputation.” Snyder and his attorney’s suggest that, while it has built up over time, the situation finally became unbearable with the publication of Dave McKenna’s article on November 19, 2010 entitled, “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder.”
What has some scratching their heads is the target of the lawsuit. Mike Madden, Managing Editor of the Washington City Paper wrote, “Snyder sued the investment partnership that owns City Paper’s parent company, alleging that our November cover story defamed him.” The lawsuit was filed against the parent company of WCP’s parent company, Atalaya Capital.
The WCP’s Editor, Michael Shaffer described the situation in his article, “Bully pulpit: Why a sports owner’s lawsuit matters.” He wrote:
“Still, when Snyder’s legal threats became public, it was at least partly a relief. We’d first learned about his displeasure back in November via a letter from Redskins General Counsel David Donovan. The missive wasn’t directed to our editors, who most people would contact with complaints. Instead, it was sent to the investment company that controls the media firm that owns City Paper. It included this doozy of a statement: ‘We presume that defending such litigation would not be a rational strategy for an investment fund such as yours. Indeed, the cost of the litigation would presumably quickly outstrip the asset value of the Washington City Paper.’”
David Carr, a former editor of the WCP and currently with the New York Times described the situation this way:
“Neither Mr. Snyder nor his executives ever got in touch with the newspaper or its editors, preferring to try to exercise leverage on the hedge fund that owned it. The effort to cut out the middleman and apply direct pressure on the ownership reflects a level of aggression that would have come in handy on the field during yet another hapless Redskins season.”