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Oh Danny Boy

The Redskins owner sues 'City Paper' for libel and defamation. And let's throw in anti-Semitism while we're at it.

8:16 AM, Feb 8, 2011 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, is suing City Paper for $2 million in addition to punitive damages and court costs. Why? Because an article in the paper by Dave McKenna was packed with lies. And it was anti-Semitic. And it was mean. Really, really mean. Except that others don't see it this way (well, maybe it was a little mean).

Oh Danny Boy

For instance, in citing a falsehood, Snyder's legal team points to McKenna's introductory paragraph, in which he states that Snyder "made a great view of the Potomac River for himself by going all Agent Orange on federally protected lands." The owner did not in fact use Agent Orange, his lawyers insist. City Paper argues this was merely an expression, not to be taken literally. I, for one, pictured the end of Platoon. Or the famous napalm scene from Apocalypse Now—a neat row of fireballs along the Potomac. It's a good thing no one is describing Snyder as having gone ballistic—readers might think he went on a shooting rampage.

Now about that column, entitled "The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder," an A to Z list of one atrocity after another. Under B, you will find "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.”

Or under F, "Fan Appreciation Day":

Gimmick used in 2006 by Snyder to draw people to FedExField, where he charged $25 to park to watch the team scrimmage and hear an address from Vinny Cerrato. The parking charge was not mentioned in the advertisements the team produced for the event.

McKenna even quotes AEI economist Kevin Hassett who called the Redskins operation "seriously mismanaged." Under the numbered section, there's this priceless entry (so to speak):

$10: Amount Snyder charged fans for admission to the team’s workouts during the 2000 training camp at Redskins Park in Ashburn. He also charged another $10 to park, thereby becoming the first owner in NFL history to use team practice as a gouging mechanism.

I'll stop here—if I reprint anything further, I, too, may wind up subpoenaed. Meanwhile, Snyder's lawyers have asked the Washington Post to preserve any email exchanges its sportswriter Dan Steinberg might have had with McKenna. Writes the Post's Paul Farhi:

According to several people with direct knowledge of the situation, Snyder's attorneys contacted The Post last week and asked the newspaper to preserve e-mails between Post sports blogger Dan Steinberg and McKenna.

The attorneys said they intend to explore whether there was any agreement between McKenna and Steinberg to cross-promote McKenna's pieces on Snyder. Steinberg routinely links to sports content across the Web.

And then there is the issue of the cover—Dan Snyder's face with devil horns, mustache, and beard scrawled over it. Snyder has found a rabbi from the Simon Wiesenthal Center who says the image is anti-Semitic. (And Post columnist Robert McCartney found another rabbi who told him, "'I don't think this is anti-Semitic. I think it's highly juvenile,' [Rabbi] Zemel said. If the paper had set out to do something anti-Semitic, he said, it would have given Snyder 'a large nose, a bigger kind of beard, a hat, to give it a horrible, medieval rabbi look.'")

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