Daniel Snyder's Media Criticism
Just watched the big Daniel Snyder-George Michael Comcast SportsyNet interview. About eight minutes, by my rough TiVo count. Highlights.
1) George Michael: "They're saying you want to control the media by having your own Internet."
Built by Al Gore, no doubt.
2) George Michael: "How many times in your dreams have you hoisted the Super Bowl?"
Really? The whole stadium and everything? Or just the Platonic ideal of the Super Bowl, lifted metaphysically, within the confines of his mind?
3) Snyder's response: "I don't know, you'll have to ask my wife that one."
Because she keeps track of his dreams?
But seriously, here's where it gets interesting: when Snyder attempts to explain why the media (i.e. Jason LaCanfora, I guess) is so negative toward his franchise. There are a lot of ways to answer that question--some fairly interesting, I'd think--but Snyder chooses to play the Ted Leonsis card, pointing immediately to our print industry's declining circulation numbers. Which, while they certainly damage my daughter's college prospects, don't have much to do with the Redskins, unless you believe people only choose to buy news-stand copies of the paper when they see an E1 story with a negative lede about the Redskins:
Well I think part of the problem with the media is that there's a landscape change in the media. And newspapers, for example, their circulations are declining rapidly, three, four percent a year. So what they need is controversy to sell, they need negativity. And I think when it all comes down to it, it becomes a sort of feeding frenzy for them. If you look at the more modern media, newer technology, whether it be Comcast SportsNet or what have you, it's almost a little bit less biased because there's less agenda.
Ok, I'll try to make this as simple as I can. Reporters have no idea about the day to day fluctuations of our circulation, nor do we have any idea how our stories can influence that circulation. I have never in my career heard from an editor who wanted me to write a more negative story in order to jumpstart our circulation. Comcast SportsNet is "a little less biased" because they have entered into a financial partnership with the Redskins to receive oodles of content. I don't begrudge them that choice, but that's what they've done. And television is not exactly "newer technology." You want newer technology? Try blogs. This blog has a growing readership, meaning its not a sad pitiful newspaper that is attempting to survive based on the feeding frenzy model. And yet, you know what? There's negativity in my heart right now. Also, this story? Newer technology. Fairly negative. And this site? Well, let's just say it isn't Reader's Digest.
Michael: "GM: So you're saying that you give the fans MORE through your Internet and everything?"
DS: We give them unfiltered.
GM: What does that mean?
DS: Well it's not filtered by a 26-year old reporter that really doesn't know necessarily what's really going on. Doesn't necessarily meet with the coaches, the players, that doesn't have a clue but yet makes an opinion about a left tackle in comments that you say to yourself, 'You know, they obviously don't have a clue what's really going on.' So what we're delivering is the truth.
The age card? From the boy owner? Well, I'm 31, and I can promise you that when I'm 41 or 51, I still won't necessarily know what's really going on. Age does not, in this context, mean anything. Bob Woodward was 29 when he began investigating a thing called Watergate. Had the Nixon White House countered by starting its own Internet and putting clips of G. Gordon Libby on there, would the truth have been better delivered? When Daniel Snyder goes home to dream about lifting Super Bowls and creating new Internets, does he honestly believe that the surest representation of truth is a video of a press conference? He does not.
And honestly, later in the interview, he demonstrates that he understands the media exactly. Because, I'll grant you, the media is pack-like and simple-minded and short on subtlety and quick to label an overtime victory triumphant and an overtime loss tragic. It's ridiculous. And he understands that:
"When you're losing, [coverage is] brutal. When you're, winning it's not."
That is exactly all that this boils down to. If Betts gets in on third down and the Redskins win in overtime yesterday, the Washington Post would have gone ga-ga over the Redskins. Fawning over Gregg Williams, fawning over President Gibbs, fawning over brave young Jason Campbell. A couple plays went wrong, and now, if they lose to the Lions, it'll be crisis mode, with an eight-part series on "What Went Wrong." It's not because we're trying to sell newspapers. That's just what we do.
GM: "It's easy to criticize the player that's wrong. Why don't they know when they do a Stephon Heyer? I could run down the list of guys that weren't supposed to be here who are major contributors. Why do you think that they don't acknowledge the good things that have happened?"
Oh, you mean by writing Heyer profile upon Heyer profile, or gushing over the fifth round defensive tackle, or by profiling the unknown safety who came up big, or all the rest? Are those the stories we're not telling?
Anyhow, the full transcript is after the jump. Have fun. And don't be negative.
GM: March 25 of 1999, we're all down in Atlanta, you get the Redskins. If you would have known what it was going to do to your private life, the heartache, the ulcers, would you still have bought this team?
DS: Absolutely, yeah, absolutely.
DS Because it's fantastic. It's been ups and downs, but really it's quite the challenge, and everything I thought it was plus-plus more.
GM: No Dan, you can't say it's everything you thought it was, you thought you were going to go win the Super Bowl.
DS: Maybe I still do. (laughing)
GM: But seriously, there's so much grief and heartache into owning the team.
DS: It always is, and it's surprising the scrutiny you get in your personal life and some of the things that go on out there. It's absolutely surprising.
GM: You won almost everywhere you went and always against the odds, so that you had a bit of a chip on your shoulder, which is good. But did you know how hard it was going to be to win in the NFL, did you have any idea?
DS: Not really. I think that your realize when you're in it, this is more difficult than you thought it was going to be, but you work harder, and at the end of the day I think we'll win, we'll come out on top.
GM: But why hasn't it worked? God knows you've put everything into it.
DS: It will. And it's really a matter of we had a rough season last year, we think we're off to a better start this year and I think when it all comes down to it, it never goes exactly as you planned.
GM: Did you know it would be this tough? Come on, you thought it was gonna be easier. Yeah, yeah, yeah you did, didn't you? What's the biggest disappointment of doing this so far, because I remember vividly, I'll never forget the day in that hotel, and then talking to you later, but there's been disappointment you did not anticipate.
DS: Well I think last season was real disappointing, because our expectations were so high, fans' expectations, the organization, we really felt that we had the momentum, and we lost some of that, and I think we're hopefully regaining it.
GM: Dan, when you say last year was the most difficult, Joe Gibbs has called it the worst five months of his NFL life, but the day you got Joe Gibbs in January of 2004 had to be the ultimate. If your father Gerry would have been there, he wouldn't have believed that here was Joe Gibbs, becoming the Redskins' coach again.
(old clip, Snyder: I know my dad's smiling down on this today, I know you're there, smiling on this. This is some day. I'd just like to introduce THE head coach and team president of the Washington Redskins, Joe Gibbs.
DS: Yeah, it was a great day, a great day. And I'm real excited about the future with Joe Gibbs and what we've got going now is pretty good.
GM: But you thought once you got that, Super Bowls were right around the corner.
DS: Well, I think you don't really say Super Bowls are right around the corner; winning is right...
GM: The hell you don't, you do. I know I did, I was making Super Bowl plans.
DS: It's all about winning, and it starts there.
GM: You thought it was gonna happen right away, with Joe Gibbs coming back.
DS: I'm not sure I thought right away, because I thought we had some issues on our team, at the time we had quarterback controversy, and what have you, and it really takes a little bit of time to get it to gel. Year two of Joe really looked like it was coming together. Year three, we were all disappointed.
GM: Why? What was bad with year three?
DS: 5 and 11's pretty bad.
GM: So he's not the only one who remembers 5 and 11?
DS: I think we all around here realize that you're a few games from being terrific and a few bad breaks from being poor.
GM: 5 and 11 is humbling.
GM: Did you get humility out of it?
GM: All right. You know that the media guys are always gonna be on you no matter what. My question is, why does the media have this portrait of the Redskins?
DS: Well I think part of the problem with the media is that there's a landscape change in the media, and newspapers, for example, their circulations are declining rapidly, three, four percent a year. So what they need is controversy to sell, they need negativity. And I think when it all comes down to it, it becomes a sort of feeding frenzy for them. If you look at the more modern media, newer technology, whether it be Comcast SportsNet or what have you, it's almost a little bit less biased because there's less agenda.
GM: But they're saying you want to control the media by having your own Internet, and you know you're not going to put the controversy on there, having your own....
DS: Actually we do, because what we do, when the Washington Post, Washington Times, USA Today, whoever's interviewing a coach, all we're doing is taping it and feeding it to the Internet. So we're putting that content available for fans, for anybody just to see it as it is, actual questions, most of the time live.
GM: But people are saying in the media that you're trying to control the media by doing that.
DS: It's not controlling the media as much as delivering the entire story.
GM: So you're saying that you give the fans MORE through your Internet and everything?
DS: We give them unfiltered.
GM: What does that mean?
DS: Well it's not filtered by a 26-year old reporter that really doesn't know necessarily what's really going on, doesn't necessarily meet with the coaches, the players, that doesn't have a clue but yet makes an opinion about a left tackle in comments that you say to yourself, 'You know, they obviously don't have a clue what's really going on.' So what we're delivering is the truth.
GM: Why is the media against you all?
DS: I don't think they're against us all at all. I think....
GM: Dan, you want me to pull out some of the articles and show 'em to you, written by guys....
DS: When you're losing, it's brutal. When you're, winning it's not.
GM: Ok, I'll let you off the hook on that. The other, last thing from the media is why you don't have a general manager, a general manager who would be over Joe Gibbs, who would be able to say to you, 'Keep your hands off of me.' In other words, say to Vinny Cerrato, 'You now run it.'
DS: Well if you look at Joe Gibbs's racing team, for example, there's no general manager. There's no one over Joe Gibbs. It's his race team. He's been awfully successful, he'll be successful here. And there's no reason to have somebody necessarily less experienced, less history of winning over him to tell him how not to do it. And I think he's got it, I have all the confidence in the world in him, and we're not that far from getting it done.
GM: All right, so you know that the criticism is you've got the wrong player. It's easy to criticize the player that's wrong. Why don't they know when they do a Stephon Heyer? I could run down the list of guys that weren't supposed to be here who are major contributors. Why do you think that they don't acknowledge the good things that have happened?
DS: Well I think over time they will. I think the media, over time, when you're winning will acknowledge that. I think right now we haven't proved it yet.
GM: How long will it be before you build a new stadium in the District?
DS: You know, I get that question all the time.
GM: I thought you didn't do a lot of interviews?
DS: Well, no, I get that question friends about, 'Hey I read that you're interested in moving.'
GM: I never read it.
DS: Uh. [laughs]. I think it's a scenario that we have a contract that people need to read that was done before I arrived, by my predecessor, and it enables us to really stay there for a long period of time under terms, and we hope to just do that.
GM: You know, you're good at not answering the question. How long will it be before you build a stadium in the District?
DS: Someday, maybe. We'll see what happens.
GM: What do you want the fans to know about the Redskins that they don't know?
DS: Well I think they do know, and what I'd like to do is reiterate, for what's not being said out there, is that Joe Gibbs is here until 4 or 5 in the morning with his entire staff. They're working 24-7, they're giving it their all. The players are studying, HARD, here. The effort is really there, and we hope to deliver the results. But most important, the starting point is let them know that the effort is really here.
GM: How many times in your dreams have you hoisted the Super Bowl?
DS: [Laughs.] I don't know, you'll have to ask my wife that one.
GM: I want to know it from you.
DS: We hope to have that happen in the near future, we're working awfully hard to get that done.
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