For his next move, Commanders owner Daniel Snyder possibly will declare the press to be the enemy of the people.
Snyder is becoming gradually more aggressive with those in the media who dare to write or talk about the history that culminated in discipline that was announced a year ago on Friday, as the NFL picked the best possible slow-news day on the calendar to unveil its still-bizarre refusal to disclose any of the specific facts and findings flowing from attorney Beth Wilkinson’s 10-month investigation of the team’s culture.
They had pulled it off. They issued a press release, conducted a conference call with the media, and then waited as the four-day July 4 weekend unfolded. By the time Thursday, July 1 became Tuesday, July 6, the NFL’s blatant failure of transparency had become forgotten. Indeed, but for the decision to weaponize emails from the team’s server against then-Raiders coach Jon Gruden, no real scrutiny ever would have occurred.
But the Gruden emails turned July’s mild curiosity into October’s major controversy. Media and fans realized that the Gruden emails may be the tip of a toxic iceberg that the league and the team had kept hidden. The House Oversight Committee got involved, commencing an investigation. And while the league hoped to finesse the situation into a resolution short of a public hearing, that didn’t happen.
So now, as the Oversight Committee continues to attempt to achieve its goal of compelling the testimony of Snyder, he’s far more focused on chastising those who would dare to point out that he has potentially been insufficiently punished (if he’s even really being punished at all) for being the captain of the Bad Ship Lollipop. The attitude first emerged on the day the Commissioner testified before the Committee, in the form of a letter to team employees that tried to make them think the ongoing criticism of Snyder amounted to attacks on them personally. Snyder became even more pointed in a statement released by a spokesperson to the Washington Post in connection with a story that, based on testimony secured by the Committee, suggests that his “I was a hands-off owner” excuse fails to hold water.
“Despite Mr. Snyder’s continued apologies and regret for the historical problems that arose at the team, The Washington Post goes out of its way to assail his character and ignore the successful efforts by both Dan and Tanya Snyder, together with Jason Wright and Coach Ron Rivera, for over the past two years to bring about a remarkable transformation to the organization,” the spokesperson said. “The Snyders will continue to focus on their league-leading fight to bring greater respect and much-needed diversity and equality to the workplace in the face of constant and baseless attacks from the media and elsewhere.”
First of all, they’re not really “attacks.” They’re instead fair reporting and analysis of a horribly bad workplace situation that has yet, as far as anyone can tell, to result in true and meaningful accountability. Second, they’re not baseless; Snyder deserves to be criticized for the organization he ran, whether he was there every day or simply showed up periodically while others engaged in the more regular alleged misconduct. Finally, they’re not really “constant.” Given the significance of the story, in light of the fact that things are otherwise as slow as they get when it comes to NFL news, it’s a fair and proper amount of attention — especially when the league and the team continue to hide behind the offensively disingenuous idea that, because some employees requested anonymity during the investigation, all things learned must be forever concealed.
Through it all, it’s unclear whether Snyder has, or hasn’t, defied the arrangement that required him to refrain from his day-to-day role. When the Commissioner testified on June 22 that Snyder currently isn’t performing those functions “to the best of my knowledge,” the Commissioner was trying to avoid stepping into a perjury trap, given the very real possibility that Snyder is doing what he damn well pleases. It is, however, clear that the Committee continues to be unable to serve him with a subpoena, and that he refuses to accept service on his superyacht or wherever he’s currently hiding.
Stop and think about that one for a moment. Regardless of whatever bad things Snyder may have done in the past or whatever good things he may be trying to do now, he apparently is doing everything he can to avoid a mandate from a duly-elected and fully-authorized arm of the United States Government to compel him to answer questions about topics that he and the league have managed to ignore. I suppose if/when he ever is forced to ask questions, he’ll answer every single one of them with a variation to the statement issued to the Post.
Despite my continued apologies and regret for the historical problems that arose at the team, Congress goes out of its way to assail my character and ignore the successful efforts by both me and my wife, together with Jason Wright and Coach Ron Rivera, for over the past two years to bring about a remarkable transformation to the organization. We will continue to focus on their league-leading fight to bring greater respect and much-needed diversity and equality to the workplace in the face of constant and baseless attacks from Congress and elsewhere.