Inside D.C. entertainment

Dan Snyder vs. Washington City Paper: Redskins owner's legitimate beefs with Dave McKenna

February 2, 2011 - 11:35 AM
Text size Decrease Increase

As Dave McKenna might write, Dan Snyder's threat to sue Washington City Paper over a Nov. 19 article by its sports columnist, Dave McKenna, is a brilliant PR Opposite Land! Snyder's decided to become the latest to "play the Feud," as McKenna describes his frequent dustups with commenters on the paper's website, and the reaction has not been kind

In today's Washington Post, Paul Farhi reports that a letter sent to the alt-weekly's owners seeks McKenna's dismissal and threatens legal action. "It's something we tried to avoid. We feel they have published untruths," attorney Patty Glaser told Farhi.

TBD has examined the article in question; it is scrupulously sourced, so we were unable to discern any causes for action there. We did, however, note several problem areas that may present openings for Snyder's crack legal team.


1) Overuse. With few exceptions, McKenna has pounded most of his complaints about Snyder into the ground repeatedly over the years, a process that only accelerated after he was required to begin blogging every day. TBD reporter Dave Jamieson, who like me was previously employed by Washington City Paper and worked with McKenna, recounts an incident two years ago when he and Mike DeBonis, McKenna's editor and now a columnist at the Washington Post, attempted to count how many posts McKenna had written about Six Flags, the amusement park chain Snyder took control of in 2005. "We hopped on DeBonis' BlackBerry and spent a considerable amount of time counting" McKenna's "Six Flagging" posts, Jamieson says. "I believe we counted over 80."

McKenna has banged on Snyder's doomed management of the chain in Slate as well.

"Six Flagging" isn't McKenna's only attempt to garner pageviews through sheer repetition. Other examples abound.

THE 9/11 HAT Perhaps McKenna's favorite example of Snyder's amoeba-like moral code. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Redskins online store began selling a "Flag Hat" that added a red, white, and blue pentagon shape to a black Gibbs-style Skins hat. The proceeds of these sales were not dedicated to any charity benefiting 9/11 victims' families. McKenna has gotten at least four items out of this hat (1, 2, 3, and, of course, 4).

THE DICK CLARK THING McKenna's prized innumerable column inches from Snyder's ownership of Dick Clark Productions, which owns Dick Clark's New Year's Rocking Eve With Ryan Seacrest as well as produces the Golden Globes telecast. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...) This evinces gross neglect of Kindergarten Ninja jokes.

EXTREMESKINS My computer is limited by 2010 technology, so I can't count all McKenna's items about the feckless practices of the Snyder-owned message board, which not only routinely purges comment threads but the entire existence of commenters who dig up Snyder quotes like this one:

That meant there's going to be a lot more diabetic patients, a lot more cancer patients, etc. How do we capture those market segments?

2) Tortured sentences. In McKenna's omnibus Snyder-bashing piece, the following sentence appears in the entry for Bill Gates: "But he’s not as rich as he would be had he not done business with Snyder." That should have been recast to avoid the double negative/past-perfect-progressive combination. "But he'd be a lot richer if he'd never done business with Snyder." BOOM! EDITED!

3) Not taking enough time with the illustration. Brooke Hatfield, City Paper's art director, declined to comment when I asked about the genesis of the cover of the Nov. 19 paper. I am friends with Hatfield, so I feel uncomfortable criticizing her work in public, but this thing is clearly a rush job. How long would it have taken to put together a devastating photo illustration? This person did it! These fans made funny T-shirts! Even a simple text treatment would have worked!

Read More: