The Incredibly Shrinking Dan Snyder
Hosni Mubarak will likely be gone long before Daniel Snyder. If there were a version of Liberation Square somewhere near FedEx Field, tens of thousands of Redskins fans would be gathering in an effort to depose our own more innocent local version of the imperious dictator.
It’s more than a case of an incompetent owner of a football team. This has become a cause- a fight in defense of freedom of speech; a true 1st amendment battle against intimidation and the abuse of our judicial system by a rich, powerful, self-absorbed bully who has resorted to the courts in a transparent effort to stifle dissent and criticism. He would have made King George himself proud.
Snyder has now given more than a half-dozen media interviews since invading Dallas, Texas this week in his royal arrival for Super Bowl festivities. With each defense of his defamation law suit against the Washington City Paper, he reveals himself as a self-pitying, intolerant man with a well-developed sense of victimization.
He continues the canard, repeating from his law suit, that the small, local newspaper somehow demeaned Snyder’s wife and her fight for breast cancer awareness. The publication did nothing of the sort. It is well-documented here. He maintains that he’s a changed man, that he himself has had cancer. Among other things, he said this to Mike Francesca on WFAN Radio Friday:
But I’ve matured. I’m patient now. I’ve had cancer. My wife is battling breast cancer. So I’m a survivor, my wife is now a survivor, and things have changed. I’m 46 years old. I’ve matured.
Well, I too, am a cancer survivor. Eleven years ago I underwent surgery and months of radiation therapy. But I don’t trot it out every time I feel the need to elicit pity and sympathy.
I am not Jewish. But there are some who are, who have taken grave offense to his characterization of City Paper’s photographic depiction of Snyder with horn and mustache scribbles as some act of anti-Semitism. Here’s Brett Haber, the Sports Director of WUSA-TV from a commentary he aired Thursday night on the station’s 11pm newscast:
But most offensive of all is Snyder’s reckless claim of anti-Semitism, saying that the newspaper’s cover-art, showing Snyder with horns and a mustache, invokes longstanding anti-Jewish imagery. Well, speaking as a Jew, that’s baloney. Moreover, it’s an opportunistic and self-serving accusation that minimizes the real pain suffered by legitimately aggrieved Jews throughout the world. As the City Paper correctly points out, the cover suggests a child’s scribblings across a photo of Snyder. It doesn’t portray him ant-Semitically; it portrays him as a figurative devil, and that’s legitimate. And oh, by the way, the cover artist and the editor who approved it are both Jewish.
In his media interviews Friday, Snyder repeatedly said that City Paper “crossed the line.” I would argue it is Daniel Snyder who has crossed the line. And in so doing, he has unleashed a firestorm of indignation that has resulted in a veritable celebration of 1st amendment exercises of free speech against his attempts to stifle criticism.
In these interviews, Snyder says all he sought was an apology and a retraction. So this $2 million dollar law suit is a matter of pride then. The threats from Redskin’s COO and General Counsel, David Donovan, to City Paper’s ownership group last November, that litigating a law suit could bankrupt City Paper, were just a matter of principle.
Well, if we’re going to talk about principle, City Paper insists it has nothing to apologize for and nothing to retract. And here is the most important point of all. This lawsuit is not just an attempt to silence the criticism of one publication. It is a tactic of intimidation designed to suppress criticism by all who would now live in fear that the words they type or publish will somehow land them in a court of law facing the prospect of bankruptcy and destitution.
No, this is much, much bigger than a petulant owner of a local sports team. This goes to the core of why the 1st Amendment exists in the first place; to protect the rights of free expression against the whims and conceits of the powerful.