Posted Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, at 1:39 PM
Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington NFL franchise, has dismissed a lot of employees in his time in the football business. Now, the Washington Post reports, he's trying to
. Snyder was angered, the Post's Paul Farhi wrote, by a cover story in Washington City Paper called "
Snyder has objected to the article that detailed some of his controversial actions as team owner and other reports about him in the weekly publication, and has threatened legal action against the newspaper. He also is seeking the dismissal of the article's author, staff writer Dave McKenna.
Disclosure: I worked at Washington City Paper for two years during the Snyder administration, and I edited McKenna's sports column. I am friends with McKenna and with the Washington Post sports blogger
, who is also apparently a target of Snyder's lawyering:
The attorneys said they intend to explore whether there was any agreement between McKenna and Steinberg to cross-promote McKenna's pieces on Snyder.
Snyder's lawyers suspect that a writer told a blogger about something he was writing, so that the blogger would blog about the piece. In other conspiracy news, I have reason to believe that Snyder's football team deliberately opened one of the locker rooms at FedEx Field to the Dallas Cowboys this year, so that the Cowboys could put on football uniforms and equipment, which they then used to play in a football game.
What is the point of all this noise? Daniel Snyder is a public figure with a public record. Here's part of that public record, according to the McKenna article:
Bankrupt Airline Peanuts: What Snyder was selling to fans at FedExField. During the 2006 season, vendors offered shelled nuts in royal blue and white 5 oz. bags adorned with the Independence Air logo. Problem: The airline had gone under about a year earlier. The supplier told Washington City Paper that it stopped shipping the airline’s nuts "before Independence Air went out of business." A spokesman for the Peanut Council told City Paper that to prevent rancidity, the recommended shelf life of a foil bag of out-of-shell peanuts was "about three months."
Does Snyder really want the peanuts—or the $23.99 "Pentagon Flag Hat," a 9/11 souvenir McKenna reported that the team was selling for profit—to be part of the discovery process in a lawsuit? According to the Post, one of his lawyers declined to identify any specific examples of the "untruths" Snyder claims were published.
Back in 2009, Hall of Fame running back John Riggins caused a stink when he said that Snyder was a "
" whose "heart is dark." People were
. It was out of bounds; it was too... Too what? Too personal? Too judgmental?
Fine, let's stipulate that the actual luminousness of Daniel Snyder's heart is knowable only to God and Snyder. That brings us back to the public record. Over and over again, Snyder does things that only an arrogant, selfish, bullying, greedy, juvenile person would do. In his public dealings, he appears to recognize three categories of people: the general population, which is there to be manipulated, coerced, or deceived into giving him money; celebrities to be flattered; and underlings to be abused. (His money and his NFL position enable him to hire some famous people, moving them from the
What sets Riggins and McKenna apart is that they're willing to dwell on this. Like
, Snyder has turned his thin skin into an effective public-relations strategy. For most people in the Washington market—especially the people who need credentials and access to cover Snyder's football team—it's not worth the grief to point out each awful thing he does. And it's certainly not worth the grief to put it all in context.