City Paper is not for tourists
Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder says he loves the media. He is, as he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last month, “the son of a University of Missouri School of Journalism graduate whose professional pedigree includes working at United Press International and National Geographic. I am proud of that legacy from my dad and understand the journalist’s perspective and challenges.”
Of course, the reason Snyder wrote that op-ed was to explain his decision to re-file his defamation lawsuit against Washington City Paper, our parent company, and staff writer Dave McKenna in D.C. Superior Court, after dropping a case he originally filed in New York. Which was an odd way of showing he understands “the journalist’s perspective and challenges.”
Last week, Snyder also found an odd way to thank the Post for running his op-ed: He sent the newspaper a subpoena.
According to the court papers Snyder’s legal team sent the Post, they’re interested in learning why blogger Dan Steinberg linked to City Paper‘s “Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder.” Steinberg writes about the off-field antics of just about every sports figure in the area, and he’s often linked to McKenna’s work; the two are friendly rivals on the same culture-and-business-of-sports beat. Snyder’s team told the Post in February they intended “to explore whether there was any agreement between McKenna and Steinberg to cross-promote McKenna’s pieces on Snyder.”
By delivering the subpoena, they showed they meant it. Among other requests, it seeks, from both Steinberg and the Post as an institution:
All Documents evidencing or Relating to any Communication between You and McKenna pertaining to Snyder… All Documents evidencing or Relating to any Communication between You and McKenna pertaining to Snyder’s wife, Tanya Snyder… All Documents evidencing or Relating to any Communications between You and McKenna pertaining to the [City Paper cover art]… All Documents evidencing or Relating to the reasons for the inclusion of links in Your Washington Post columns, blogs, or on Twitter to McKenna’s City Paper articles… and All Documents evidencing or Relating to Your policies Relating to the inclusion of links in Your columns to other sources.
Snyder’s lawyers also want to have Steinberg in for a deposition.
The media economy these days being what it is—which is to say, dying—every news organization spends a lot of time linking to, and getting links from, competitors. City Paper links to the Post frequently (including twice in this post), and vice-versa. But getting dragged into court to explain why reporters chose to link to a story—especially on Twitter, which practically exists to share links—hasn’t been part of the equation. Up to now.
Snyder’s lawsuit, in spite of his proud family journalistic legacy, now means the Post may have to spend time and money responding to a very broad document request and deposition supboena, even though the paper Snyder is actually suing is City Paper. The subpoena specifies that the “Documents” requested include, but are not limited to, “any kind of written, typewritten, printed, reproduced, recorded, or stored material whatsoever, whether printed, recorded, or stored electronically, magnetically, or otherwise, or reproduced by hand, including, but without limitation, drafts, notes, memoranda, letters, reports, minutes, projections, emails, telegrams, telex communications, publications, contracts, recordings, transcriptions of recordings and business records, books of accounts, ledgers, balance sheets, financial statements and all other financial documents of any kind, diaries, telephone logs, telephone bills, appointment books, desk calendars, working papers, routing slips and similar materials.” Pity the Post intern who has to comb through the telegrams!
A Post spokeswoman, Kris Coratti, says “it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on a pending legal matter.” Steinberg declined to comment until he spoke to the Post‘s lawyers. Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie says he forwarded a question about the subpoena to Snyder’s attorneys, who didn’t immediately respond. We’ll update if they do.
Read the whole subpoena here:
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Photo by Darrow Montgomery