On Leadership
Video | PostLeadership | FedCoach | | Books | About |
Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

PostLeadership

Redskins' Snyder: Reputation management in a digital age

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder isn't busy getting his team, which went 6 and 10 in another losing season, ready for the Super Bowl this Sunday. But he has been busy with something else. As the Post reported and opined about Thursday morning, Snyder has been getting ready a lawsuit against the Washington City Paper for a critical article by Dave McKenna printed in November.

Bloggers, readers and sports pundits have all been weighing in with a pretty similar message that's applicable to any leader who finds him or herself being criticized, especially in a digital age. By bringing attention to an otherwise fairly obscure publication, Snyder's suit is only calling more attention to the reputation concerns he bemoans. So much so, in fact, that the small alternative weekly had to place a disclaimer at the bottom of the page, warning readers that "due to very high traffic on February 2nd," comments would not appear immediately and would have to be cached on a second page.

This has always been true, of course. It was Ben Franklin, after all, who coined that old saw about never picking a battle with someone who buys ink by the barrel. Today, of course, it's anyone who can publish caustic comments by the thousands, and who is linked to the sites that bring in readers by the millions.

Snyder's complaint cites four statements in the article as being the most "egregious falsehoods": that he was caught forging names as a telemarketer with Snyder Communications; that he caused Agent Orange to be used on federally protected lands; that he boasted that his wealth came from diabetes or cancer victims; and that he was ousted, rather than resigned, from Six Flags' board of directors. (He also took issue with the illustration of him with horns and a goatee.) If the statements are untrue--and the paper stands by its reporter--there's little doubt anyone, no matter how much in the public eye they may be, would be tempted to set the record straight and fire back with everything they've got.

The question is: at what cost? Suits like this rarely make it to trial, so the outcome of a jury vindicating Snyder in the public realm is highly improbable. If there is merit to Snyder's claims, the case is more likely to be settled.

That will generate headlines. But the number of them and the attention they receive will hardly be on par with the breaking news of the suit's filing itself, which has inspired a trail of hundreds upon hundreds of harsh and vituperative comments from angry Redskins fans each holding up their own little online megaphones.

Leaders have to be tough-skinned. They have to know when to engage in a fight, and when to walk away. And they have to know when to trust their public relations adviser--if they have a good one--today more than ever. Only time will tell whether Snyder's claims are right, and whether his lawsuit was a worthwhile endeavor. But the digital spew of criticism the suit has generated by fans toward the Redskins' owner may be far worse than whatever McKenna first wrote. Unlike the previous day's newspaper in Ben Franklin's time, those comments could follow Snyder online forever.

By Jena McGregor

 |  February 3, 2011; 11:41 AM ET |  Category:  Corporate leadership , Sports leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The risks of drawing out Egypt's leadership transition | Next: Super Bowl: Green Bay Packers' unique team leadership

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



I hope the City Paper goes for sanctions based on admitted improper motive in filing this law suit.

Posted by: blipper | February 7, 2011 11:36 AM

Really the City Paper can lie about folks now. Until its you.
If my wife had breast cancer and they had made stupid comments about her you would not be concerned about a lawsuit.
Litigation would be the last thing a reporter needed to worry about.
Snyder may not be the smartest football guy but there was no reason for that.

POSTED BY: JOEORTEGA4 | FEBRUARY 7, 2011 8:06 AM

******************************


Snyder, is that you?

NO WHERE in the article does Mr. McKenna slam Mrs. Snyder in ANY way. This is an example of me saying the sky is blue and you accuse me of stating it is chartreuse, then threatening to sue me for not being factual. STUPID.

I'm a long-time, diehard Saints fan, but I feel you Skins' fans heartache.

BTW, I didn't even know Snyder was Jewish.

Posted by: Blarney | February 7, 2011 10:46 AM

What "stupid comments" did the City Paper article make about Mrs. Snyder? Answer -- none.

****************
If my wife had breast cancer and they had made stupid comments about her you would not be concerned about a lawsuit.
Posted by: joeortega4 | February 7, 2011 8:06 AM

Posted by: blipper | February 7, 2011 10:27 AM

There is another particularly thin-skinned would-be leader who should take heed of the message in this article. Out of solidarity with Dana Milbank, I'm not mentioning her name.

PS@BS2004: As we say on another board I belong to, WWP (Worthless Without Pictures). If you have the goods, as it were, let's see 'em!

Posted by: bucinka8 | February 7, 2011 10:21 AM


City Paper Legal Defense Fund

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/legaldefense

Support the legal fight against Dan Snyder!


Posted by: ocouha | February 7, 2011 10:10 AM

Dan Snyder has a small d1ck. I have proof.

Posted by: bs2004 | February 7, 2011 9:45 AM

Really the City Paper can lie about folks now. Until its you.
If my wife had breast cancer and they had made stupid comments about her you would not be concerned about a lawsuit.
Litigation would be the last thing a reporter needed to worry about.
Snyder may not be the smartest football guy but there was no reason for that.

Posted by: joeortega4 | February 7, 2011 8:06 AM

I don't care much for football, but this Dan Snyder stuff IS entertaining (not that I'd pay Dan any money for such)!

Posted by: clematis77 | February 6, 2011 11:18 PM

Snyder's doing what ALL rich people and corporations do when challenged: bury the opposition with money. Insurance companies do it every day. A guy who pays a malcontent like Haynesworth $20 million is dumb enough to do anything. I'm surprised one of his legal hacks didn't tell him to ignore the damn thing and it'll go away. But Snyder thinks his money makes him smart. Wrong again, Dan-O. Be interesting to see how this comes out. And I'll be happy to donate a $buck to the CP's defense fund. Hope others do, too.

Posted by: ctenwith | February 6, 2011 5:01 PM

Here's a good litmus test about what truly makes a leader - will people sacrifice money just for the opportunity to work with you and see how y operate. Fact is Snyder has to overpay for his talent because of the organization he transformed from the JKC era. I've yet to see him make a truly wise decision during his reign of error that truly benefits the 'Skins.

He's not a leader, I'd liken him more to the kind of child who throws snowballs at cars then goes and hides behind his mothers apron. He went to media row yesterday and clearly demonstrated an interesting lack of charisma.

Posted by: Leofwine | February 6, 2011 2:14 PM

@THEBISHOPOFD "Someone, I won't say whom, needs to read the decision in N.Y. Times v. Sullivan."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And also: Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988): Extending standard to intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Posted by: DubStep | February 6, 2011 11:04 AM

Snyder is a drama queen.

Posted by: VAALEX | February 6, 2011 3:53 AM

I am 65 years old and have been a Skins fan for as long as I can remember. I have become increasingly disillusioned with the team since Snyder took over and this recent episode is the final straw. I quit. Little Man Dan will never get another penny of mine, I will cheer against his team, and I will enjoy his seething at their failure.
I will also contribute to the City Paper defense fund. Actually, I was not aware of the City Paper article but now that Danny has brought it to my attention, I am going to send it to everyone I know. I'm not going to stomach another season with this little prick. Adios, amigos.

Posted by: rgonet1 | February 5, 2011 9:52 PM

So, Mr. Snyder is not getting his Black and White Skins ready for the Super Bowl..I didn't know they were in the Super Bowl! OK, this is a white thang...Mr. Snyder needs - as Bill Cosby says, " to get out more."

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | February 5, 2011 8:33 PM

@fywp

When hearing the general info in Snyder's lawsuit it seemed like it'd have no merit - but it's now fairly obvious that people (including McGregor) actually believe some of the statements - like he actually used agent orange!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

You should really take a poll before you say something like that. I'm really insulted you think I'm that much of an idiot. If I ever figure out who you are, I'm going to sue you!

Posted by: Playitagainsam | February 5, 2011 4:35 PM

We all know Dan's an a-hole...just ask his house keeper.

Posted by: waltsgm | February 5, 2011 4:24 PM

Someone, I won't say whom, needs to read the decision in N.Y. Times v. Sullivan.

Posted by: TheBishopofD | February 5, 2011 12:57 PM

So that's why John Boehner is ORANGE.

Posted by: bigmac1810 | February 5, 2011 8:40 AM

Snyder's complaint cites four statements in the article as being the most "egregious falsehoods": that he was caught forging names as a telemarketer with Snyder Communications; that he caused Agent Orange to be used on federally protected lands; that he boasted that his wealth came from diabetes or cancer victims; and that he was ousted, rather than resigned, from Six Flags' board of directors."

Only one problem, each of those incidents is true and documented. Snyder and his attorneys lied about them in the complaint. Snyder is a liar who got rich by fraud, but I suppose that passes for "leadership" in American corporate culture.

Posted by: mcstowy | February 4, 2011 3:55 PM

When hearing the general info in Snyder's lawsuit it seemed like it'd have no merit - but it's now fairly obvious that people (including McGregor) actually believe some of the statements - like he actually used agent orange! This isn't in the realm of satire, it's really harsh, untrue statements that are believed by many. You can not like the guy, but pinning untrue statements on him isn't right.

Posted by: fywp | February 4, 2011 1:27 PM
======================

"Going all agent orange" was a metaphor. No one believes or was led to believe that Snyder used the actual chemical, which is illegal, to cut down trees in his backyard.

It was comparing his chopping down of trees to the clearing of forestation in Vietnam. It may not be completely apropos but it was neither slanderous nor libelous.

Snyder does not deny cutting down the trees of course, because he was fined for doing so.

He was also fined by Florida for the practice of telephone "slamming".

If you want more info on it, go to the "Official Message Board of the Washington Redskins" and follow the links.

http://www.extremeskins.com/showthread.php?343947-The-Phone-Slamming-King-How-Snyder-Communications-made-Dan-Snyder-rich-1997-1999-...-rich-enough-to-buy-the-Washington-Redskins&p=8143619

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | February 4, 2011 2:01 PM

Careful, Snafu rhymes with Jew, those Nazi Hunters out on the coast will be on your butt. The world's pretty much run out of old school Nazis so they have to re-badge folks as the opportunities come along.

Begs the question by the way is a rino a Jewish hippo?

Posted by: NICKYNUNYA | February 4, 2011 1:54 PM

The contributer to the DCRTV.com Mailbag nailed it:

Redskins owner Daniel Synder sues DC city paper for “anti-Semitic depiction.” Native American groups chuckle over the irony. (2/4/11)

Posted by: dongrahamwp | February 4, 2011 1:49 PM

When hearing the general info in Snyder's lawsuit it seemed like it'd have no merit - but it's now fairly obvious that people (including McGregor) actually believe some of the statements - like he actually used agent orange! This isn't in the realm of satire, it's really harsh, untrue statements that are believed by many. You can not like the guy, but pinning untrue statements on him isn't right.

Posted by: fywp | February 4, 2011 1:27 PM

As a Washington Post reader, but defintely not a Washington Redskin fan, I have to say I love this... I love seeing these completely narcissistic, football operation-meddling owners destroy their own property. I LOVE IT!!!!! I hope Dandy Dan Snyder is the owner of the Redskins for a looooooooooooooooong time!

Posted by: ANTGA | February 4, 2011 12:27 PM

I sure wish you "Norv was awesome" folks would back off, exactly what has he done as a head coach since? Barely a .500 career with a whole lot of games under his belt, and another sub-par performance from a supposed contender, yet again. Please please please, he wasn't and still isn't all that. Please.

Posted by: soloman5000 | February 4, 2011 11:37 AM

"egregious falsehoods": ... that he caused Agent Orange to be used on federally protected lands"

Daniel Snyder IS Agent Orange.

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | February 4, 2011 10:18 AM

He's a public figure, no? He has no chance of winning; he is just trying to harrass a company with less money to throw at this frivolous suit than he has. Maybe he should spend his money hiring some consultants to change the racist and offensive nickname he proudly keeps for the team.

Posted by: dane1 | February 4, 2011 9:17 AM

WJFREEMAN1 Stop generalizing people. You filthy racist. Not everyone who is African American speak ebonics. The ex mayor is an attorney. What is your qualification. I'm black, ivy league educated and speak 3 languages including French and German. How about you?
Posted by: muffet | February 4, 2011 7:20 AM
+

I'm sure you are responding to the comment clearly posted in the wrong articles comments section and you make, albeit a thin-skinned , valid point. It would be even more valid if certain venues of "higher learning" hadn't tried to claim and teach "ebonics" as an actual language and not the shorthand and idiomatic speech it actually is.

Speaking of thin-skinned, how about that Dan Snyder, huh? Is that the connection here?

Posted by: theduck6 | February 4, 2011 8:52 AM

WJFREEMAN1 Stop generalizing people. You filthy racist. Not everyone who is African American speak ebonics. The ex mayor is an attorney. What is your qualification. I'm black, ivy league educated and speak 3 languages including French and German. How about you?

Posted by: muffet | February 4, 2011 7:20 AM

@LaughingHorse....His comments were right on target completely...It seems Snyder hasn't learned from his mistakes and keeps repeating them....

That Washington Paper article was written in Nov...almost 3 months later he is still stewing over it...most of us have forgotten that article and are focused on other Redskins stuff but apparently not the owner...Too bad...more ugliness going into training camp AGAIN...AND he hasn't even settled the McNabb-Haynesworth issues.....

Posted by: pentagon40 | February 4, 2011 1:15 AM

I had not heard about any of this until I read your column tonight, and I have to say, this guy Snyder sounds like a real doopus.

Posted by: morphex | February 3, 2011 11:55 PM

Is he getting his advice from "mall attorneys?" I guess if you have enough money your choice of counsel will agree with any position you chose, no matter how ill-advised.

Posted by: reporter1 | February 3, 2011 11:12 PM

Judging by the comments here, the only evidence of good judgment made by Snyder is that he filed his lawsuit in New York.

Posted by: pato_md | February 3, 2011 9:03 PM

By taking issue with four or five allegations, which themselves are characterizations that are later explained in the article and therefore unlikely to be actionable, Snyder has shined a big, HUGE spotlight on the rest, impliedly conceding their truth. The suit has done more damage to Snyder than any article possibly could have. Damage control--sell the Redskins and chill on a beach somewhere far, far away.

Posted by: CharacterCounts | February 3, 2011 8:48 PM

Couldn't agree more with the comments about how this lawsuit shows Snyder to be the utterly classless, greedy business owner who sees the world in zero-sum terms-- fans give, he takes. He's quite proud of the "value" he's created by extracting every last cent from his customers to boost the Redskin's revenue numbers-- not realizing how he's actually devalued his product in the long run by treating everyone (employees, customers, the public) so shabbily.

People will get tired of him and his game. Just wait until he asks citizens to fund his new stadium-- that will be the time that he'll really understand our disdain for him. And it will cost him.

One last thing, can we stop referring to him as "Mister" Synder? I've always thought that a term of respect-- and I certainly have none for him. And suspect very few others do either.

Posted by: Bigbobhooter | February 3, 2011 7:13 PM

WIll Rosetta Stone be releasing a new product, "Hooked on Ebonics?

Posted by: wjfreeman1 | February 3, 2011 5:54 PM

Look at the good side of it all, he's not an ignorant drunk like robert Irsay who moved the Baltimore colts to Indianapolis

Posted by: chet_brewer | February 3, 2011 4:21 PM

Snyder breeds "losership", not leadership. He was, is, and always will be a jerk. What could he hope to accomplishn here?

Posted by: cruddy1 | February 3, 2011 4:19 PM

"Dan the Dictator" Snyder should stop going to Hosni Mubarak's leadership seminars.

Better yet, Skins fans should boycott his ownership until he sells the franchise. Not only has he stunk as a GM-owner, but his treatment of fans and press has been inexcusable.

Posted by: JPRS | February 3, 2011 3:52 PM

From the beginning, Snyder has always been the owner who thinks he knows it all. He has made mistakes all the way. I suggest he stop trying to take on the City Paper and get out of the way of his coaching staff. Let those who know the business of football run the team; Snyder never has and never will. He just wants his way no matter what.

Posted by: cecountee | February 3, 2011 3:45 PM

With recent and past actions, Mr. Snyder has displayed a complete lack of judgment, character and leadership

I submit for evidence, the current situation: the article in the City Paper had very low visibility, so the "damage" to Mr. Snyder's vaunted reputation was minimal and contained. His ridiculous, petulant response to the article magnified the impact and indeed served to reinforce and offer evidence for, all the negative descriptions found in it.

To then invoke an accusation of anti-Semitism as part of an argument for an intimidation law suit is an insult and displays a lack of character. Such a ploy is as transparent as Mr. Snyder's umbrage.

Finally, why has Mr. Snyder not spoke out in his own defense? Why is he hiding behind the skirts of the legal mouth pieces and PR flacks? If this article was so injurious and such an affront, why not speak out against it? Mr. Snyder "has the means and resources" to speak to the media. He has not. Cowardice?

Mr Snyder possesses none of the characteristics of a genuine leader. He is wealthy and has achieved success, yet by what means? Is he respected? The, "he can do what the wants" agruement is a false one.

In Washington D.C., one need only to compare Mr. Snyder to another high profile sports team owner to see true leadership, character and class.

Hats off to you, Ted Leonsis, for showing how it can be done.

Posted by: JohnsonEsq | February 3, 2011 3:14 PM

laughinghorse... you've got it right. I've been around since George Allen and never have I felt so much discontent for any Person or part of the Redskins Organization.

As for stevek13. Like the Eagles wrote in a song a few years ago. "GET OVER IT"

Posted by: ohioskinsfan1 | February 3, 2011 3:02 PM

Speaking the truth doesn't make McKenna anti semitic any more than being stupid,corrupt,cheap, two faced and incompetent makes Snyder jewish. It's all one big happy coincidence.

Posted by: carlbatey | February 3, 2011 2:54 PM

Ok Mr. Snyder you are rich enough to "own" the Skins. And Ok you are egotistical enough to believe the world really cares what you think. And Ok you believe that you have an impact by stating your opinion in the press. And all that might even be true. But in reality Mr. Snyder I see entirely too much of your life in print. What I want to see is the life of the team and how it progresses, not YOU. We know who "owns" the team,so just pay the bills. Just stay in your fancy box, hire good people and then get out of their way. Since the day you strutted onto the field to give "my" coach, Norv Turner, your opinion(?) I have been hoping for and waiting for,some semblance of maturity and ego restraint. Instead what I get is your self-important life drama. Believe it or not Mr. Snyder you are not a celebrity, only notorious. I would love to see you accept the Lombardi Trophy soon, but until then, please, please, I want to see nothing of you or your life or dramas or power plays in print. Let the coaches coach, the players play and please allow the fans their football team. Be a good guy, Mr. Snyder, be quiet.

Posted by: LaughingHorse | February 3, 2011 2:40 PM

Grew up a Redskins fan - watched Gibbs et al win three Super Bowls. Had the autographed posters,pennants, footballs, etc. I am done with this organization. I never thought I would see the day when I actively root against the Skins, but that day is here. This guy is unbelievable.

BTW, Snyder's "lawsuit" is so transparently a PR move that I hope that the defendants' Rule 12 motion to dismiss the case comes with a Rule 11 motion for sanctions. Any litigation attorney will carefully counsel a client wishing to file a libel action of all the potential problems associated with winning such a case. The fact that Snyder insisted on filing a libel action anyway removes any prior doubts I had about the guy's complete lack of good faith (and good judgment).

Usually I get my fall Sundays back from the Redskins in early October. This year I'll never lose them to the Skins to begin with. Good times!


Posted by: JoeHman | February 3, 2011 2:37 PM

If Snyder really thinks that his and his family's reputation was maligned by the article (and he should know what the truth is, and he can also back those up with facts which he will need in court)then he has all the right to pursue whatever legal means he thinks is necessary to correct the situation.

I am sure any of the people who thinks otherwise will also defend their reputation once they're the subject of any maligning article about themselves. I know I will...

Posted by: judeandteddy | February 3, 2011 2:21 PM

Take that $10 in parking fees and donate it to the City Paper so they can fight the little turd.

Posted by: eor11 | February 3, 2011 2:10 PM

Please, Please, Please sell our beloved Redskins to someone with the intelligence, class and ability to shepherd this sacred trust in the direction it desperately needs to go, Mr. Snyder.

Posted by: habibhaddad | February 3, 2011 2:00 PM

How can he sue or complain about anyone while he won't change the team's racist, offensive name?

Posted by: stevek13 | February 3, 2011 1:48 PM

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. Danny Boy - we're not laughing with you, we are all LAUGHING AT YOU!

Posted by: am_smythe | February 3, 2011 1:37 PM

"The problem is a bad product is being sold to us as fans. With other businesses we subscribe to we would get our money back or accomodation on the bill. Give us a good product and we'll all be happy."

The customer service and good product, bad product, we deserve a refund argument can't be applied to competitive sports, however, in the way it can be applied to shopping at CVS or Sears. If it could, 32 teams worth of fans would have the same argument to make and, if it could be fulfilled, that good product requirement, equally for all of them, every team would finish 8-8. That is impossible.

Posted by: SCOTSGUARDS | February 3, 2011 1:36 PM

Make his situation worse? Does the item cite any evidence whatsoever to indicate that his business will suffer financially because its customer base will shrink? The businesses patrons call themselves "fans," and there will likely be enough of them to watch the games, buy the merchandise, and maintain interest to justify broadcasting, etc. that Snydeer does not have to worry much no matter what he does. All in all, much ado about nothing. Snyder need not worry.

Posted by: Sutter | February 3, 2011 1:32 PM

Everything he's done as owner has succeeded only in alienating fans. Loyal fans of the Redskins read the article and nod their heads in agreement. I imagine he'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would want to take his side. Has he ever made a major decision as owner that was not blatantly self-serving, and instead in the interest of the team and its fans? And his reaction to the article merely confirms the fact that he is small-minded, petty, vindictive, and completely deserving of his reputation and the vilification he's now getting. McKenna didn't tell any of us anything we didn't already know or suspect. Dan Snyder is a shining example of someone who has more money than brains.

Posted by: eye8ch | February 3, 2011 1:23 PM

The problem is a bad product is being sold to us as fans. With other businesses we subscribe to we would get our money back or accomodation on the bill. Give us a good product and we'll all be happy.

Posted by: agis1 | February 3, 2011 1:05 PM

This nitwit was me longing for the days of Jack Kent Cooke.

Posted by: whocares666 | February 3, 2011 12:45 PM

I imagine more than a few season ticket holders on the verge of renewal will have this lawsuit in their mind.

All Mr. Snyder has really accomplished is directing people towards the article... to see a laundry list of his past actions his customers may not have been aware of.

Maybe it's just me, but the lawsuit seems like an entirely consistent pattern of behavior with the items in the article.

Posted by: Spunkmeyer | February 3, 2011 12:43 PM

Snyder simply does not care - he wants to put the CP out of business. This is his MO, and just confirms what "anonymous" sources have been quoted as saying about him over the years. He's someone whose business persona is entirely made up of attack, divide, and conquer. The last sound decision he ever made, if he's ever made any really at all, was buying the Skins. Everything else he's done has turned to absolute crap, because he's simply a bad manager and business person - one of those people who lucked into an opportunity and things fell into place. Fans of the Skins are now left to face what the reality is - he's only interest is in using the Skins to make money and promote the brand. He has no other interest than that, and will do whatever it takes to remove any criticism or barriers to that end. You the fans have to decide whether you can continue to support that because Snyder ain't going anywhere.

Posted by: bendersx6 | February 3, 2011 12:27 PM

Post a Comment




characters remaining

 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company