Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder has sued a company named Media Entertainment Arts WorldWide over baseless articles published on its website. According to supporting documents filed in federal court in California (which you can read below), the articles claimed that Snyder was linked to Jeffrey Epstein and speculated that Snyder might be forced to step down because he was allegedly involved in sex trafficking, as well as that he might rename his team “the Epsteins.”
The action was filed in New Delhi, and while Washingtonian is not exactly clear on its chances (a 2012 Wall Street Journal blog post notes that defamation can be a civil and a criminal matter in India and that its courts “have been relatively mild in dealing with issues of defamation“), MEAWW’s articles, if they are described correctly in court documents, may present Snyder a rare opportunity to actually prevail on a defamation case.
In 2011, Snyder filed a widely mocked case against Washington City Paper, which published an A-Z account of what were then the lowlights of his ownership of the team. (Since then, Snyder has managed to somehow make his team even less popular.) Snyder later dropped his suit against City Paper, telling the New York Times he’d never actually read the article.
This time, however, if the facts in the court documents hold up (MEAWW has deleted the stories in question and I couldn’t find cached copies, so I’m unable to evaluate them firsthand), Snyder seems to have a legitimate beef. One article quoted Reddit comments in support of its thesis, the documents say. Another, they assert, was titled “#RedskinsScandal: Will Dan Snyder rename Washington Redskins the ‘Epsteins’? Angry Internet screams ‘throw him out’.”
Snyder’s team seeks discovery to help with the case. On Monday he filed documents in federal court in Alexandria that suggested a former employee might have been part of a conspiracy to defame him. The documents filed in California say he seeks information on the identity of a Twitter account that speculated that a much-anticipated Washington Post article would include allegations that Snyder paid off referees. In fact, the July article outlined what it described as a longstanding culture of women being harassed and verbally abused at Snyder’s organization.
Disclosure: My boss, Michael Schaffer, was editor of Washington City Paper at the time of Snyder’s suit. I’ve been critical of that action since Snyder filed it in 2011. Schaffer didn’t see this article before publication.