Defamation Headline Torts

Daniel Snyder v. Atalaya Capital Management LP

Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, is filed a Complaint against Atalaya Capital Management LP and the newspaper it owns, Washington City Paper (WCP).  One glaring issue that Snyder had with the WCP is that it used the picture shown to the right in one of its articles discussing Snyder back in November 2010.  While WCP claims that the picture was a scribble, intended to associate Snyder with the devil, Snyder and his camp of attorneys see it in another light.  They believe that the picture is inherently anti-Semitic, calling it “extremely insulting, offensive, and disturbing.”

Take a look at the original story published on November 19, 2010, which contains the disputed picture.  While the author is certainly no fan of Snyder, is there any hint of an attack based on his religion?  After a quick skim, I could not find anything that jumped out.

Daniel Snyder has a right to protect his reputation against defamatory remarks and depictions; however, he faces an uphill battle in this particular case, especially since he is easily labeled as a public figure.  He is seeking $1 million+ in addition to punitive damages.  Snyder must prove that those “lies, half-truths, innuendo and anti-Semitic imagery to smear, malign, defame and slander”  actually damaged his reputation and he must prove with convincing clarity that WCP published the article with knowledge or in reckless disregard of its falsity and its defamatory character.  In order for Snyder to have any chance on this one, he must have prove that WCP had intent for actual malice.

I think the point has been made; Snyder will not stand for anti-Semitism, and I applaud him for that.  However, this lawsuit will probably hurt his reputation more than the scribble, which was not tied to any anti-Semitic language.