As readers may be aware, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has, for the better part of the year, been in a legal brouhaha with the Washington City Paper over an article published long ago entitled "The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder."
Along the way, he has shifted the venue of the legal battle to Washington, D.C., which has a strong statute against strategic lawsuits against public participation (or "SLAPP" suits), which refer to legal action designed to intimidate or impoverish defendants vindictively for having exercised their rights to free speech. Snyder is stuck having to go forward with everyone knowing this is a SLAPP suit, because his P.R. guru actually admitted that it was intended as a "warning shot" to the media. So now, he's going to challenge the statute, passed by the D.C. council, in court -- a move that is sure to alienate the residents of the very city from which he gets his fanbase.
Snyder recently gave an interview about this matter to The New York Times, and since the new football season is just underway, we thought we'd give you a "by the numbers" breakdown of the most interesting details that have now come to light.
This, for instance, is unbelievable, but true:
Earlier this year, you sued the Washington City Paper for publishing “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder,” which, among other things, claimed that your company had engaged in some shady business practices. Have you read the article?
How could you sue without reading the piece?
Because I heard all the details. But the entire piece? I’m not going to read that.
You know, if he'd read the article, maybe he'd understand that one of his legal team's contentions -- that he literally killed trees with Agent Orange -- was actually a metaphor ("...going all Agent Orange...") and that no one who'd actually read the article could have possibly surmised differently. Anyway...
Number of times Dan Snyder has read the article that he is suing over: ZERO.
Next, we have this:
Had you not sued, I probably wouldn’t have come across the piece. Do you think it was a tactical error to sue them?
Possibly. But at the end of the day, you can’t call someone a criminal when they’re absolutely not. What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong. And I think they were just wrong. I mean, all we asked for, and continue to, is a simple apology, a simple correction.
Dan Snyder needs to learn what the "Streisand Effect" is. Coined by Mike Masnick at TechDirt, it refers to the way that attempting to "repress something [one doesn't] like online is likely to make it so that something that most people would never, ever see ... is now seen by many more people." As it happens, Masnick followed up on how the Streisand Effect impacted Snyder back in February, and discovered that Paul Alan Levy had done some quantifications:
Case in point, an article about Redskins owner Dan Snyder in the Washington City Paper: "The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder" by Dave McKenna. This fascinating article published by a small local paper averaged 16 web comments per week for the fist 12 weeks it was published before something changed on January 30th. But deeper analysis actually reveals that after two weeks after the article was published, the comments averaged only 3 comments per week and then in the 13th week comments spiked to 470 comments...
The article garnered 554 tweets and over 7,000 Facebook (FB) likes. A quick survey of City Paper articles shows that few, if any, other articles by Mr. McKenna rate more than 5 comments, tweets or FB likes. So what is the recipe to the Washington City Paper’s traffic increase? Is there a repeatable model or secret sauce that web entrepreneurs can bottle to drive traffic to their sites?
Unfortunately not, because in this case, the increase in traffic was not driven by direct action by the paper. Because Snyder disliked what was written, he sued the paper in a law suit filed Feb. 2, drawing thousands to read the article and igniting a social network firestorm in response. If Dan Snyder didn’t want anyone to read the article, then he should have done what 99 percent of the rest of us Washingtonians did... ignore it. Attention begets more attention.
Number of times other people read the article that wouldn't have otherwise because a guy who never read it decided to sue over it: LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS.
Finally, there's this:
I mean, all we asked for, and continue to, is a simple apology, a simple correction.
"We were hoping that he'd apologize, hoping they'd say sorry," Snyder said Friday afternoon in an interview in Dallas. "All they had to do was apologize and retract their lies."
But when they didn't, Snyder filed suit this week against the City Paper's parent company, Atalaya Capital Management, seeking $2 million in general damages plus unspecified punitive damages and court costs, alleging the City Paper and writer Dave McKenna have libeled and defamed him.
But three days before, Washington City Paper publisher Amy Austin told the Post that Snyder hadn't "spoken with anyone at her publication." And that's after the paper reached out to Snyder to attempt to resolve this. Here's Amy Austin, in the City Paper, on Feb. 2:
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.
The upshot? When Snyder first claimed that he had asked for an apology or a retraction, he hadn't actually done so. And that's despite the fact that the City Paper reached out to him. I've been given no indication that this has changed. So it looks as if...
Number of times anyone at the Washington City Paper has read a request from Dan Snyder asking for an apology or retraction: THE SAME NUMBER OF TIMES DAN SNYDER HAS READ THE ARTICLE HE'S SUING OVER
If Snyder can prove otherwise, he knows where to find me. Good luck with Rex Grossman.