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Dan Snyder has dismissed his lawsuit against the Washington City Paper following seven months of public statements and court filings designed to get the paper to retract an article written by Dave McKenna in November of 2010. In a statement provided Saturday, the Washington City Paper acknowledged it was "pleased" with Snyder's decision.
From the beginning, we have believed that Snyder's lawsuit was a baseless one, designed to intimidate a journalist and a publication that have been among his most persistent critics. We've also argued-in our pages, and in court-that our article never said any of the allegedly libelous things Snyder claimed it did.
We're confident that the court would have seen things our way, too, thanks to the strong laws the District of Columbia has in place to protect free speech. But we're also glad that it won't have to go that far.
The full statement can be read here. Most notably, the paper patted itself on the back for what they described as not allowing them to get bullied.
City Paper is a small news organization with limited resources, and defending ourselves against this lawsuit has cost massive amounts of time and money, well beyond the $34,308.91 that readers have contributed to our legal defense fund. Despite those costs, we are proud that we never wavered or allowed ourselves to be bullied, ultimately leading Snyder to dismiss his case.
After over seven months of it being scrutinized, Dan Snyder's lawsuit against the Washington City Paper is no more. The Redskins have announced that Snyder will dismiss his lawsuit against the paper and writer Dave McKenna for the paper's 2010 story detailing the many failings of Snyder's ownership.
Washington Redskins spokesperson Tony Wyllie said in a press release that there was nothing to be gained from continuing with the lawsuit.
"In the course of the defendants' recently filed pleadings and statements in this matter, the Washington City Paper and its writer have admitted that certain assertions contained in the article that are the subject of the lawsuit were, in fact, unintended by the defendants to be read literally as true," Wyllie said. "Therefore, we see nothing further to be gained at this time through continuing the lawsuit. We prefer to focus on the coming football season and the business at hand."
Wyllie also said that the team "remains committed" to ensuring "responsible reportage" of the team and "the principle" that "the truth and facts matter" in journalistic coverage.
Snyder has been under fire for the lawsuit, most recently after admitting in an interview that he didn't even read McKenna's full story.
In the latest rounds of filings in the Daniel Snyder v. Washington City Paper court case, the Washington Redskins' owner took a big swing at the defense's motions to have the case dismissed under the city's statute against Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPP - catchy, right?).
Erik Wemple of the Washington Post explains Team Snyder's legal beef with the statute, first by quoting the brief and then explaining:
"Just as sure as ‘Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the freedom of speech,' so, too, the D.C. Council may make no law with respect to the manner in which the D.C. Superior Court conducts its affairs." Then the document invokes Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to "Exercise exclusive legislation" over the District of Columbia. Further, it notes that Congress has "expressly" prohibited the District from effecting "any act, resolution, or rule with respect to any provision of Title 11 of the District of Columbia code (relating to organization and jurisdiction of the District of Columbia courts)."
Snyder's team went on to assert that, regardless of the applicability of the SLAPP statute, his case had ample merit to continue in DC's Superior Court, adding that the billionaire had narrowed his complaints to only three specific statements the publication made that they believe either accuse Snyder of criminal conduct and damage his reputation.
The defense in Daniel Snyder's case against the Washington City Paper filed a motion for the case to be dismissed, and the judge presiding has given the Snyder camp until Aug 1 to respond to the claim and make a request for the case to be moved forward, according to Keith Alexander of the Washington Post. The onus of proof was always on Snyder in this case, but this new ruling has expedited that process and made him prove his case much faster.
At a hearing, Judge Todd E. Edelman told attorneys that he will use the Aug. 1 filing and a follow-up response from City Paper’s attorneys to determine if the lawsuit should be dismissed under the District’s new Anti-SLAPP Act or if Snyder can demonstrate that the case should move forward.
It seems like the judge kind of wants to get this trial out of his courtroom, and issuing this ruling is the fastest way to make that happen. I've said all along that the City Paper has the advantage in this case, and I still believe that to be the case. But because their biggest problem might be paying the legal fees, an expedited trial is really to their advantage.
In the court of public opinion, it was basically the entire media against Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder in his infamous lawsuit against the Washington City Paper. Now, that's essentially true in a court of law. Fourteen organizations, including NPR and Politico, have aligned themselves with an amicus brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union requesting the case be dismissed.
National Public Radio, Politico, Public Citizen, the American Society of News Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, Allbritton Communications Company (WJLA-TV 7) and WUSA-TV (Channel 9) are among those urging the District Court to dismiss the suit.
The brief, which was filed Monday and can be read here, argues that the case should be dismissed on account of it violating a new law preventing companies from filing lawsuits meant to intimidate and force costly litigation. Snyder, of course, originally filed the lawsuit over claims made in a November article by Dave McKenna entitled "The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide To Dan Snyder."
Dan Snyder's lawyer, Patty Glaser, joined "The Sports Junkies" on 106.7 The Fan Tuesday morning to explain why her client elected to re-file a lawsuit against the Washington City Paper for a November cover story by Dave McKenna. Glaser said McKenna's claim that Snyder was caught forging names was untrue because Snyder Communications settled without admitting to it, and added that there were two other claims (he cut down trees and h was kicked off the Six Flags Board of Directors) that are a part of the lawsuit. She also said that the case was moved to D.C. in part to add McKenna's name to the lawsuit.
Here are a transcript of her comments. You can listen to the interview here.
On why the lawsuit is being filed
"I think he wants and expects truth, and I think you want truth. Most journalists expect and want truth. Most journalists are extremely professional and take seriously this notion of freedom of the press. But freedom of the press comes with responsibility, checking facts and not acting (in our view) recklessly. Public figures have protection too. You need to be careful, you need not to be reckless. You can't publish things that are knowingly or easily checked to be false. So we want a retraction and an apology."
On the forging claim
"No I won't admit it. I would like to point out to you that there were 77 offices in 17 countries and more than 12,000 employees, and there's not even an allegation that Mr. Snyder had anything to do with it, had any knowledge of it, was even aware this was going on."
"There's no acknowledgment of any wrongdoing, and that occurs after Mr. Snyder sold the company. So I want to be very clear of that."
"There has never been been a suggestion, not even remotely, that 'Dan Snyder got caught forging names as a telemarketer.' That's just pure, unadulterated nonsense. That's not poetic license. That's just not true."
On what explains the $3.1 million settlement
"There was never a finding that Snyder Communications got caught forging telemarketers. If the facts come out, and they hopefully will, the facts are that it was an independent contracter. And even the independent contractor, to my knowledge, never acknowledged any wrongdoing ever. But certainly Dan Snyder did not get caught forging names with Snyder Communications. It just isn't true."
"Eventually, we agreed to resolve the differences without admitting anything. But it had nothing to do with Dan Snyder as Dan Snyder."
On why they are re-filing in D.C.
"The other side actually presented us evidence on who was responsible for what we felt are misdeeds. They didn't acknowledge the misdeeds. They just pointed out who was responsible. We dropped one of the defendants, added Mr. McKenna because we will be refilling in Washington D.C."
On why they are going through with the lawsuit despite negative PR
"We're in a terrible period -- terrible and good -- of something called the Internet, where stories get repeated and repeated and repeated ... "If I accused you of plagiarizing a story on your radio show, you would be incensed. And if I never called out and found out if it was the truth or not, you would be crazed by that. And rightfully so. I don't have a right to make an accusation against you like that unless I checked my facts. That's not OK."
On her reading of the figure-of-speech statement that McKenna went "Agent Orange" on the trees
"We don't view it that way and we don't think others view it that way."
After two months of silence, Dan Snyder has managed to bring his lawsuit against the Washington City Paper back to the forefront of the discussion. Snyder has filed an op-ed in the Washington Post explaining the decision to sue the paper over Dave McKenna's November cover story. In it, Snyder focused on just one of his objections and said he has decided to file in Maryland rather than New York.
At the beginning of the op-ed, Snyder said that the complaint is "essentially the same" as before. However, he spent most of the time objection to the claim that he was "caught" forging names while working as a telemarketer.
That is a clear factual assertion that I am guilty of forgery, a serious crime that goes directly to the heart of my reputation - as a businessman, marketer and entrepreneur. It is false.
Remarkably, several weeks after I filed the lawsuit, the publisher wrote in Washington City Paper that she was "baffled" that anyone could read the article and believe that I had been accused of personally engaging in forgery. "In fact," she wrote, "we have no reason to believe he personally did any such thing - and our story never says he did."
Well, I am baffled, too, since personally engaging in forgery is precisely what the paper explicitly said I had been "caught" doing.
Previously, Snyder's complaint centered around what he felt was an anti-Semitic depiction of him on the front cover, which featured a picture of Snyder with devil horns on his face. He also objected to the article's depiction of his wife, a breast cancer survivor. He had also objected to the telemarketing claim, but it was only a smaller part of his larger issue. It remains unclear whether this means he has changed his complaints.
The longer this Daniel Snyder lawsuit against the Washington City Paper goes on, the better the paper looks. Today, it published a fairly lengthy open letter from Publisher Amy Austin that addressed everything about the lawsuit. It showed each portion of the article that Snyder claimed was libelous, provided a suitable explanation and supported author Dave McKenna; as they have been all along.
Austin also addressed Snyder directly, and implored him to do something that I'm sure many Redskins fans have been asking of Snyder since news of the lawsuit first broke.
Mr. Snyder, in all the public uproar about your suit, what people seem to be saying is that —just as we plan to continue focusing on putting out relevant journalism each week—they want you to focus for as long as you own the Redskins on the stewardship of the team, an institution that is much older and admittedly much more prominent than ours. The last three weeks have reminded me that the region is filled with fans who want to see the Redskins build a winning team, coaching staff, and organization. They want you to bring the generosity of spirit your lawyers described in reciting your charitable activities to everyday interactions with players, fans, and ticket holders. They want you to concentrate on the greatness of the business at hand.
I'm not knowledgeable enough about the laws in question to decide one way or another if the lawsuit is valid. But I do know that the whole thing is largely unnecessary. I'm not saying that Snyder should put up with slander and libel. But if it is a case that will be difficult to make, as this one appears to be, than it isn't worth the negative publicity he is getting. Let. It. Go.
When the Washington Redskins decided to go ahead and sue the Washington City Paper over a cover story by Dave McKenna that the team alleges contains false statements about owner Dan Snyder, they actually ended up suggesting to the paper that it would not be financially "rational" for it to go the litigation route. The Washington City Paper vowed to defend itself "vigorously" regardless, and now, they are asking for help to pay for legal costs.
The paper has opened a legal defense fund where readers can donate money to "support our right-and anyone's right-to write the truth about him, or any powerful public figure, even if it's not flattering." The money will be used to pay the legal costs, and any extra money will be donated to charity. The paper stressed that readers should not donate what they cannot afford, but are offering readers the chance to directly stand against Snyder's lawsuits.
To contribute, send a PayPal contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a check made out to "Washington City Paper Legal Defense Fund" toWashington City Paper, 2390 Champlain St. NW, Washington, DC 20009. You can also drop us a note at that address to show your support.
Snyder objected to the November 18 story because it suggested he forged signatures, cut down trees on federal land, doodled devil horns on his face in the cover art and supposedly mocked his wife's fight against breast cancer. However, a TBD search and an article by Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post shows that McKenna's story mentioned nothing about Tania Snyder's breast cancer.
Dan Snyder just did a radio hit for ESPN 980 (his station, for the record) discussing his lawsuit against the Washington City Paper for libel and character defamation stemming from a November 18 article by Dave McKenna titled "The Cranky Redskins Fan Guide To Dan Snyder." In it, Snyder said that Tony Wyllie, the team's senior vice presidentt, advised him to go forward with the lawsuit.
"All I did was support Tony Wyllie. He wanted to do it," he said.
He was asked about the timing at the Super Bowl, and he said that was his lawyers' decision. As for the reason for the lawsuit, he reiterated that it was simply a matter of right and wrong.
"What's right is right, and what's wrong is wrong. There's nothing more to it. It's as simple as that."
Snyder reiterated that he did not like what he felt was an anti-Semitic depiction of him on the cover photo (calling it "not nice" and "not appropriate").
"They've been doing this since the Nazis and before. You don't do it," he said, though it wasn't clear who "they" were.
He said he just wanted an apology from McKenna. He said he hasn't met McKenna, but believes he was in the wrong.
"If someone calls you a criminal, and makes fun of your wife who's battling breast cancer, shame on you," he said.
Finally, he said that he respects the media, but took a dig at the Washington Post and other traditional media outlets.
"I understand the Washington Post has a field day...that's what they do. Old media is trying to survive. Radio is on the up and up," he said.
Dan Snyder has made his first public comments since his decision to file a lawsuit against the Washington City Paper for libel and character defamation stemming from a November 18 cover story by Dave McKenna titled "The Cranky Redskins Fans' Guide To Dan Snyder." In an interview with reporters, Snyder said that he had "no choice" but to file the suit.
Snyder says he felt he had no choice but to file suit against WashCityPaper. "What's wrong is wrong," he says
Snyder's primary objections of the article remain what he believes to be factual inaccuracies regarding him forging signatures while heading a telemarketing company and cutting down trees protected by federal land, a front-page depiction of him with devil horns doodles, which he feels is anti-Semitic, and a mocking depiction of his wife, a breast cancer survivor. Washington City Paper editor Michael Schaffer told SB Nation Radio earlier today that the claims are "typically ridiculous."
Now that Dan Synder has officially filed suit against the Washington City Paper for a November 18 cover story by Dave McKenna, the Washington City Paper has decided to defend itself. Earlier today, the paper's editor, Michael Schaffer, joined SB Nation Radio on 106.7 The Fan to talk about the lawsuit and defend the paper against claims by Snyder that the story contained incorrect facts and attempted to defame Snyder's character.
"I'm a native Washington, a lifelong Redskins fan, and it's just sad when I hear you saying that the big story around here is a lawsuit," he said. "Instead of gearing up to take on the AFC champs, it turns out that the owner is gearing up to take on a local newspaper, and that just seems really sad to me."
Schaffer said the Redskins initially contacted "the fund that owns the parent company that owns the paper," not the paper directly, and confirmed that the Redskins said it wouldn't be "rational" for the paper to defend itself against a lawsuit.
"It's frustrating, because instead of it coming to me, where I could say 'Here, this is my guy, and let me tell you, we're rock solid,'" he said. "Instead, it was through this convoluted, whisper-down-the-lane manner."
Schaffer said the paper was careful to check the facts, calling the claims "a typical exaggeration," and dismissed the claim that the front-page photo, which showed Snyder with doodled horns on his head, was anti-Semitic.
"My take is, 'Give me a break,'" he said. "By that logic, every fifth grader who drew devil horns on his teacher is a bigot."
Schaffer was asked whether there was any concern about the tone of the article opening themselves up for this kind of litigation, and said that is part of what happens when you have a columnist like McKenna writing.
"Dave [McKenna] is a columnist, and like a lot of columnist, they trade in opinion. They obviously have to back up their opinion with facts ... but this is not a dry piece of prose. This is a columnist's work, and a very good columnist's work at that."
Listen to the full interview here.
As we noted yesterday, the Redskins have officially filed a lawsuit on behalf of Dan Snyder against the Washington City Paper for "lies, half-truths, innuendo and anti-Semitic imagery to smear, malign, defame and slander" Snyder in a series of stories culminating in a November 18 piece by Dave McKenna titled "The Cranky Redskins Fan Guide To Dan Snyder." The lawsuit is asking for the paper, as well as its parent companies, to pay $2 million in damages, $1 million for libel and $1 million for damage to his reputation.
The Washington City Paper vowed yesterday to fight the lawsuit, saying it will defend itself "vigorously."
The lawsuit centers around four things printed in the November 18 piece, though it is part of what Snyder's representatives believe to be a "smear campaign" against the publication. Those four things:
With all of the drama surrounding the fight between Daniel Snyder and Washington City Paper, there is nothing more concrete than an official court document. And with that, the legalese is here.
A tabloid newspaper is not entitled to employ lies, half-truths, innuendo and anti-Semitic imagery to smear, malign, defame, and slander a prominent member of the community in order to generate reader interest and maintain its circulation. Yet that is exactly what the Washington City Paper and its principal columnist have resorted to with respect to their coverage of Mr. Snyder.
Mr. Snyder is a public figure. As such, he accepts the right of the public and the press to criticize him or to express personal dislike, whether or not such expressions are justified by the facts. What he will not accept, however, is a tabloid printing lies about him or using anti-Semitic imagery, half-truths, and innuendo to smear and defame him, or to demean his wife's prominent and public role as National Football League's national spokeswoman for breast cancer awareness...[or] recklessly printing lies...[or] an absolute abdication of any responsibility by reporters and newspapers for fact-checking and truth-telling...
Mr. Snyder feels blessed to be in a position and to have the ability and means to stand up to such blatant ugliness.
The Washington City Paper has released an open letter to its readers in response to the Redskins' decision to file a lawsuit against the paper for what they believe to be libelous claims made against team owner Dan Snyder in a November 19 cover story by Dave McKenna. The letter, written by publisher Amy Austin states that it stands by the facts in the article and said it will defend its case "vigorously" if the team indeed moves forward with the suit.
The letter also states that the paper has given Snyder an invitation to write a response to the story.
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.
The story, entitled "The Cranky Redskins Fan Guide To Dan Snyder," details all of Snyder's failings as team owner. Initial reports suggested that the team was calling for McKenna to be fired, but the team has denied that. Instead, the team claims the suit focuses on the front-page picture depiction of Snyder as a devil, a claim that he forged his signature while working as a telemarketer, which they believe to be false, and what they believe to be an unfair depiction of Snyder's wife, who is a breast cancer survivor.
Austin writes that the Washington City Paper stands behind the facts in the article. She wrote that the Redskins' warning letter strongly urged against fighting the lawsuit, suggesting the paper could not financially support such litigation. In response, the paper offered Snyder a chance to respond, which prompted the Redskins to ask for certain documents to be retained for litigation. The paper is reviewing that matter now.
The Redskins' lawsuit against the Washington City Paper's November cover story on Dan Snyder centers around what the team believes to be libel, cruel language to damage one's character, a depiction of Snyder as a devil and "anti-Semitic" language the paper has used in the past, according to several reports.
The lawsuit deals with a front-page article by Dave McKenna titled "The Cranky Redskins Fan Guide To Dan Snyder," which detailed many of Snyder's failings as an owner. While many have focused on the idea of the Redskins suing a paper because of excessive criticism, the Redskins' suit claims specific damages that only tangentially relate to the tone of the article.
SB Nation's Redskins blog Hogs Haven spoke to senior vice president Tony Wylie, who said the lawsuit deals with two specific passages in the article. One refers to a claim that Snyder forged names as a telemarketer, a claim they believe is false. Forging names is a federal offense, and the Redskins object to Snyder's depiction as a criminal. The other is when the article attacked Snyder's wife, a breast cancer survivor, for promoting health and breast cancer awareness.
In addition, the Redskins object to the headline photo of the article, which is a picture of Snyder with devil horns, according to ESPN 980's Chris Russell. Finally, they will be including objections about anti-Semitic comments the paper has used in the past, according to Russell.
In a radio appearance on "The LaVar Arrington Show with Chad Dukes," Wylie said it was time for the team to take action.
"There are a lot of things in the article that we're not happy with. For example, anytime you call someone a criminal, you have to defend yourself. Calling him a criminal is definitely wrong, and we gave them a chance to respond and let them know we weren't happy. At some point, when people cross the line, you have to defend yourself, so they forced us to take legal action."
Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder is indeed moving forward with a lawsuit against the Washington City Paper for a November 19 cover story by Dave McKenna detailing dozens of Snyder's failings as an owner and person. However, the team contends that Snyder is not calling for McKenna to be fired, contrary to the initial report in the Washington Post.
Tony Wylie, the team's Senior vice president, and David Donovan, the team's chief operating officer, confirmed to Chris Russell of ESPN 980 that the suit against the City Paper will be filed tomorrow. However, both stressed that Snyder is not calling for McKenna himself to be terminated.
Just talked w/ #Redskins SVP Tony Wyllie & COO Dave Donovan: "Dan's never asked for anyone ever to be fired." in resposne to WAPO headline
This is contrary to yesterday's Washington Post story, which said the following:
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.
The article in question is title "The Cranky Redskins Fan Guide To Dan Snyder," and it details a number of his transgressions, with several entries for each letter of the alphabet. The Redskins feel the story contains a number of lies and are suing the paper for defamation.
Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder is indeed moving forward with his threat to take legal action against Washington City Paper writer Dave McKenna. Director of Communications Tony Wyllie confirmed that the suit is being prepared, according to John Keim of the Washington Examiner:
Redskins Comm Dir Tony Wyllie on Snyder/City paper issue: "We won't put up w/lies. Once it's filed everyone will know the truth."
A report in the Washington Post indicated that Snyder was threatening legal action against the paper for McKenna's November cover story detailing dozens of ways the owner has failed during his tenure. The article, entitled "The Cranky Redskins Fan Guide to Dan Snyder," runs down the list from A-Z, attacking everything from Snyder's team decisions to his actions off the field. The Washington Post reported that Snyder is also seeking the dismissal of McKenna, a long-time writer for the paper who has written many critical things about Snyder since Snyder became the owner of the team.
Snyder was criticized last year for ordering the removal of critical signs at FedEx Field last year, but this is the first time he has ever prepared a lawsuit against a media organization.
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