In an open letter to readers (and Redskins owner Dan Snyder), Washington City Paper publisher Amy Austin revealed that, “more than 600 supporters have given checks, most of them for just $20, to ring up more than $28,000 to a legal defense fund we set up to help us fight the [lawsuit brought by Mr. Snyder.]”
She goes on to explain why the lawsuit is without merit, specifically the way Snyder’s legal team is basing its case on an implausibly literal interpretation of staff writer Dave McKenna’s verbal skewering of Snyder. (Using this kind of logic, those words are proof that I’ve just threatened to use a skewer-like object to cause physical harm to Snyder and his family.)
Austin argues that by wasting both parties’ time and money on a case that is likely to be dismissed out of hand, Snyder is distracting both the Redskins and City Paper from their respective aims of winning football games and producing quality journalism:
. . . at the end of the day, it shouldn’t have to come to that. We have a city to cover. Dan Snyder has a football team to run. One thing I’ve been struck by during my conversations with readers these past few weeks is how much people want City Paper to continue its fiercely independent role in our community—and how much those same people want the Redskins to build a successful team. In a city divided by race and class and identity, the team, even now, retains a unique ability to make the District proud and bring people together. Another Super Bowl championship wouldn’t solve all of D.C.’s troubles, but it would be a moment of tremendous joy and unity. By contrast, a lawsuit pitting a billionaire NFL owner against Washington City Paper is a distraction.
. . .
We at City Paper will survive this, and in all likelihood will come out stronger on the other end. In fact, we’re confident we’ll triumph in court. I would suggest that your fans, and ours, would have been better served if we each focused on our real work—in the newspaper and on the field, not in the courtroom.