Dan Snyder doesn't do many interviews. The reason: When Dan Snyder opens his mouth, he embarrasses himself. The Redskins owner appears comfortable only when speaking in sound bites about how his blood runs "burgundy and gold." So it came as a surprise last week when Snyder sat down with the DC affiliates of FOX and NBC. Snyder was eager to discuss his charitable works. He also wanted to talk about "tabloid" journalists. Most of all, he wanted to be loved. It was shameless PR stagecraft, and it was embarrassing for everyone involved — the asshole being interviewed, the incompetent who no doubt engineered the interviews, and especially the credulous morons conducting the interviews.
Even by the whorish standards of the TV business, FOX and NBC debased themselves. The interviews are virtually identical. Same softball questions. Same factual errors. Same giggling bonhomie. You can watch them in their entirety here and here; they've been spliced together in the video above. We'd call the interviews blowjobs, but that seems anatomically improbable given that Snyder had also bent the reporters over a chair. (We mean that only in the figurative, non-libelous sense, of course.)
It's sad to see journalists recite spoonfed talking points, but that happens sometimes. What's exceptional in this case is that FOX and NBC also provide Snyder a platform from which to rip another reporter and make nitwit distinctions between "legitimate" and "tabloid" journalists. Trying to understand how Dan Snyder thinks is a dangerous proposition. The inside of his head is like an overcooked sack of microwave popcorn — a few defective kernels bouncing insanely above a charred mass of carcinogenic stupidity. In Snyder's mind, "legitimate" journalists are the ones who hang around Redskins Park, fondling their press credentials and getting the scoop by exchanging pounds (and god knows what else) with Redskins staff. By contrast, Dave McKenna, Dan Steinberg (whom Snyder subpoenaed last week), and anyone who works for an alt-weekly or a blog is a "tabloid" journalist, an untrustworthy species of reporter prone to baseless screeds. This understanding of new media is so antiquated, fatuous, and picked-over that it's not even worth examining. What's important to note is that, after 12 years of being a public figure, Dan Snyder — who owns several radio stations and has the run of Sally Quinn's fuck dungeon (figuratively speaking, of course) — is still too ignorant about the media to comprehend reporters who don't behave like fluffers on his personal porn set.
Just watch his interviews with "legitimate" TV journalists. The man opposite him in the video is FOX 5 Sports Director Dave Feldman, who later admitted that the Redskins — and here's a guess that this was PR moron Tony Wyllie's handiwork — offered FOX the interview with the stipulation that Feldman limit the conversation to Snyder's charity work. NBC reporter Lindsay Czarniak states during her interview that "we were invited here to talk about the charitable foundation and all the good works the Redskins are doing in the community." Feldman told the Redskins that he'd have to ask other questions. We imagine Czarniak and NBC did the same. (The Washington Post, according to Steinberg, declined the interview outright.) If Snyder compromised a smidge, it was by design and to allow the "legitimate" journalists to retain plausible deniability.
Both interviews are so heavily scripted that in watching one, you've seen the other. The questions are nearly identical. The reporters even make the same error at the outset by congratulating Snyder on the 12th anniversary — "almost to the day" — of his purchase of the Redskins. To which a baffled Snyder responds that the anniversary isn't until July. Christ. If you're going to mainline a flack's smarmy palaver, shouldn't someone somewhere at least check it for impurities? Like the questions, Snyder's answers are equally uniform. He uses the same anecdotes and examples, including a cryptic reference to a wristband that he believes demonstrates the mendacity of bloggers. You'll have to read this post to fathom what he's talking about. Clearly, Snyder has had several stock phrases implanted into his popcorn sack. A favorite: "What's right is right, and what's wrong is wrong." When he utters pap like this, his countenance grows grim. He wants you to know, world, that he is serious. And that he will be expressive with his hands. He will speak in a smooth, deep register. He will dissemble. He will remind you of nothing else than a slightly desperate Nordstrom shoe salesman trying to move last season's pump.
And now, for both your convenience and purposes of comparison, we're listing the major questions from each interview.
1.) "Dan, first of all, happy anniversary. You bought this team 12 years ago yesterday. [Snyder interjects to correct Feldman, who explains that 'they' gave him inaccurate information.] During that span, and if you took away your owners hat and just played the fan, which you are and have been since a kid, what would be during your span as an owner the highest high and the biggest disappointment?"
2.) "You're such a football fan. ... Are you worried about this lockout? Are you worried about us not having football?"
3.) "This past weekend, Redskins charitable foundation renovated a football field in Pittsburgh. Today, you gave away a scholarship to someone who I understand is a very impressive youngster. ... You don't always publicize them. You don't always get credit for them. How important are these charities for you? ... There are so many people, Dan, that would benefit from this and so many great stories ... How do you pick and choose? it must be difficult."
4.) "What about a new facility in the district to play your home football games?"
5.) "Do you have an opinion on whether [McNabb and Haynesworth] will be back on this team? ... You still have as much confidence in Shanahan as when you hired him?"
6.) "You grew up here, Dan. You are a self made man. I get it that every owner in the NFL is open for criticism. ...It seems sometimes for a guy who is just such a fan and who cares so much and who made his own way successfully, gives back to charity, it seems sometimes you are a lightning rod for criticism, and I'm not sure I understand why. I don't know if you understand why. Is that just part of the gig?"
7.) "The criticism I remember that that was one of the reasons you say — people telling untruths — that you sued the city paper. I don't know if you're allowed to talk about that, but were you worried about how that would be perceived or did you just have to do that?"
8.) "Some off-the-wall questions for you. You think football all the time. When you're not thinking football, Dan, what do you like to do?"
9.) "You're a huge Redskins fan. Are you a huge sports fan? Do you root for the Caps, and the Nationals, and the Wizards?"
10.) "Favorite band? Are you a music guy?"
11.) "Got a favorite movie of all time, Dan?"
12.) "What would be a surprising thing about Dan Snyder that the fans might not know that you don't mind them knowing because we're on camera?"
13.) "I will say, Dan, and I don't know maybe it's different when there's a podium up there and you have to talk and all the media is up there and maybe it puts you on guard, but sitting down in a one on one setting there's a very likable side to Dan Snyder, and is that harder to come out when there's like a podium and people are grilling questions?"
14.) "What would you say to the fans? You got a message for the fans who don't get to hear from you that often?"
1.) "Here we are, almost to the day — the 12th anniversary of you buying the team. [Snyder interjects to correct.] ...In this 12-year span, what's the biggest thing you've learned?"
2.) "What has been the biggest adjustment personally that you've made?"
3.) "We were invited here to talk about the charitable foundation and all the good works that the Redskins are doing in the community and we do not deny that, but during a lockout how tough is it to get people to feel for owners when they just really want to see football? ... How hard is it, though, to do all your charitable foundation work with no players?"
4.) "What are you most proud of?"
5.) "How difficult, um, is it and maybe you'll say it's not to sit back and watch the McNabb situation unfold, having not been the one behind that decision?"
6.) "With the Haynesworth situation, a lot of people were wondering, hey, with all the distraction, not just in the beginning during training camp, and lack of production, why not just let the guy go so we can move on?"
7.) "You've done so many great things charity wise. Do you feel at all that it's negated by the most recent lawsuit against the City Paper? ... But you know that fans also read into things, if they like you said maybe they don't know as you say the whole situation, so why weren't you concerned that that might fog perception? ... People thought Tony was out of his mind to suggest the suit against the City Paper. Was there any concern from your end on that? Did you second guess it? ... I tried to print out that article and had to stop at 80 pages because of the comments and every single one was negative. That has to bother you when you think about, hey, here I am, I'm just trying to protect my image."
8.) "You've been unbelievably involved in that. In the past, the perception has been among the fans that you've been involved in the decision making process behind the scenes. Now you have Bruce Allen. You have Mike Shanahan. I heard a story about a player who came to see you shortly after Bruce was hired and said, hold on a minute, can't go into Dan's office to talk to Dan anymore about football stuff. That has to go to Bruce. Has that been different for you?"
9.) "The fans love to watch their favorite team with an eagle eye. But what is your biggest do-over. ... If you could do something, if you change something that you've done along the way among these 12 years?"
10.) "How important is it for you to be liked by the fans?"
11.) "What is the most important thing that you would want them to know about you that you think is a misperception?"
12.) It used to be when i was growing up the Redskins for the most part were the only game in town. Same thing when you were growing up here. Not necessarily the case now. Obviously, the Capitals have been the team in the area that's had the most recent success. I'm just wondering if you ever sat down or chatted on the phone or sent a text to Ted just to compare notes and kind of pick his brain."
Doesn't it all just make you want to giggle?:
[All video by Emma Carmichael]