This is rich. The owner of the Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder, has sued the Washington City Paper for a column he claims defamed him and used anti-Semitic imagery. That’s right, the man who has famously defended his right to name an entire football team after an ethnic slur is playing the ethnic card because a columnist made fun of him.
The kicker is that on top of this amazing execution of rank hypocrisy, Snyder manages to insult all Jews who have actually dealt with anti-Semitism by coming up with an ethnic offense where none existed. The columnist wasn’t making Jewish jokes or playing off of Jewish stereotypes. He was calling Dan Snyder a terrible owner and a shady dude. Saying he was a victim of anti-Semitism degrades the term and make this entire lawsuit look like the petulant reaction of a narcissistic millionaire.
As Dennis Green might say: Daniel Snyder is who we thought he was….
Here are the basics of the lawsuit, from ESPN:
Snyder filed the lawsuit against the weekly paper and its parent company, Atalaya Capital management LP, in New York State Supreme Court on Wednesday. The suit seeks at least $1 million in damages for each of the two causes of action, plus punitive damages.
The cover story entitled “The Crazy Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder,” has an altered photo of the owner with horns and a beard drawn in pen. The suit claims the weekly newspaper used “lies, half-truths, innuendo and anti-Semitic imagery to smear, malign, defame and slander” Snyder.
And here are some basics on defamation law 2Ls will understand that Snyder should have checked out before commencing this action. From ChangeLegal:
Daniel Snyder has a right to protect his reputation against defamatory remarks and depictions; however, he faces an uphill battle in this particular case, especially since he is easily labeled as a public figure. He is seeking $1 million+ in addition to punitive damages. Snyder must prove that those “lies, half-truths, innuendo and anti-Semitic imagery to smear, malign, defame and slander” actually damaged his reputation and he must prove with convincing clarity that WCP published the article with knowledge or in reckless disregard of its falsity and its defamatory character. In order for Snyder to have any chance on this one, he must have prove that WCP had intent for actual malice.
Here’s the original article that Snyder objects to. And here is the Washington City Paper’s reasonable response to Snyder’s issues. If Snyder thinks he’s being unfairly or illegally maligned here, he needs to read some of my slash fiction on what Knicks owner James Dolan and Mets owner Fred Wilpon do when they think no one is watching.
Snyder is a public figure, the columnist was making fun of him, and I’ll be shocked if this suit survives a motion for summary judgment.
Snyder might be as good at picking football players as I am at picking out healthy lunch options, but we know he can identify a good lawyer when he sees one. He has got to know that this lawsuit is probably dead in the water. So why did he file it?
I’m forced to believe that the only reason he did this was that he wanted to get a headline calling a newspaper anti-Semitic and possibly gain some public sympathy with a fan base that generally can’t stand him. Most people take claims of anti-Semitism seriously.
Unfortunately, Dan Snyder is not one of those people. Here’s the image that forms the entire basis of his ethnic objection:
That’s anti-Semitic? That looks to me like a public figure with devil horns drawn on his head. I mean, I’m a guy who has gotten into bar fights over how The Smurfs are anti-Semitic (I mean Gargamel. Really?), but I can hardly fathom how drawing devil horns on a photo conveys any ethnic malice.
But hey, there’s an NFL lockout looming. Maybe Dan Snyder is just looking for some other way to make outlandish, nonsensical decisions.
Daniel Snyder sues local newspaper [ESPN]
Daniel Snyder v. Atalaya Capital Management LP [ChangeLegal]
The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder [Washington City Paper]
To Our Readers [Washington City Paper]