As you know, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has decided that he's had it up to here with a months-old article by Dave McKenna in the local alt-weekly Washington City Paper, and so he's going to sue the hedge fund that owns the paper for $2 million, plus damages, because the paper won't apologize for "The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide To Dan Snyder" -- not that he ever once contacted the City Paper, seeking an apology.
Why is Snyder doing this? Personally, I feel it's because he has the precise character deficits and view of the world that's expertly laid out in the "Cranky Guide." But what if there's some other reason? Yesterday, DCist's Aaron Morrissey took on the question, "Is Dan Snyder's Defamation Lawsuit A Publicity Stunt?"
It doesn't appear to make a whole lot of sense, I know. But, think about it: we have been talking a whole lot about Dan Snyder in the last couple of weeks -- and a piece today by new WaPo sports columnist Jason Reid lends at least a little credence to that theory.
Reid notes that Snyder had to be massaged into filing the lawsuit over Dave McKenna's "The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide To Dan Snyder" by his public relations guru Tony Wyllie:Snyder rarely singles out individuals in response to reporters' questions, preferring to reply in umbrella terms like, "it was an organizational decision." In a phone interview Saturday, Snyder again stressed Wyllie "felt very strongly about this . . . and I went with his advice. It was a tough decision for me to agree and go along with this. He said, 'Look, you're going to take a lot of heat temporarily, but you've got to do what's right.' And I said, 'Okay.' I went with my guy."
The theory is, I guess, that Wyllie felt that Snyder needed to "open up to the media." By, uhm ... suing them. That's an odd tactic! But I sort of get why Snyder's drawn down on the "Cranky Guide" specifically: there's obviously a lot of very scattered criticism of Snyder, but McKenna created an encyclopedic version of it, and put it on the web. And when the "cranky fans" of the future have new complaints, where are they likely to go? To Dave McKenna, the guy who's done the best job honoring them. In essence, Dave McKenna has become Dan Snyder's Julian Assange. (Disaffected Redskins fans should definitely take their PrickiLeaks to McKenna.)
Still, as Morrissey notes, people do like to say, "there's no such thing as bad publicity." I mean, I guess. From my standpoint, there is such a thing called "The Streisand Effect," and it's really a concept that Wyllie should familiarize himself with, with all deliberate speed.
The amazing thing about McKenna's piece is that the way it's written makes it the perfect catalyst for the Streisand Effect. If you're the sort of person who values good publicity, McKenna's "Guide" is the sort of thing that you just leave the hell alone, telling yourself, "This too shall pass." (And then, I don't know, start building a winning football franchise?) And were Snyder and Wyllie non-idiots, that's exactly what they would have done. Instead, they have renewed the life of the "Cranky Guide," and spread its news far and wide and to entirely new audiences. (Here's a piece on the matter from Choire Sicha, someone who I have always wondered what it would take to get him interested in professional football.)
And speaking of: Deadspin's Tommy Craggs is making it his mission to link to Dave McKenna's original piece on the daily "until Snyder's dumbass lawsuit gets tossed into the Potomac." Here's how he responded yesterday to Reid's piece in the Washington Post:
I just love it -- the voice in the wilderness, the moral conviction, the whole martyred air of it all, as if Wyllie and Snyder were a couple of Freedom Riders on a southbound bus to Montgomery, and not, you know, one corporate carnivore urging another to stuff some legal papers down a critic's throat. Pricks.
Craggs will have more today, and every day, until Dan Snyder wises the hell up. So, yeah, guys, good luck with all this great publicity you're getting!