The Washington City Paper's editor, Michael Schaffer, on the unlikely David-vs.Goliath fight he finds himself in with Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who is seeking to put the City Paper out of business:
The owner of the Redskins is no Hosni Mubarak. All the same, Dan Snyder's efforts to put City Paper in its place are worth caring about. And, for the record, they'd still be worth caring about even if his Redskins were perennial playoff contenders, even if FedExField were a model of affordable ticket pricing, and even if Snyder was the sort of beloved civic figure people decorated with halos rather than devil horns.
In an age when media organizations have been battered by a lousy national economy and a rapidly shifting advertising and audience landscape, the balance of power between powerful people and the reporters who cover them has shifted, too. The First Amendment was written to keep government from abusing our rights. But citizens also need to be able to speak freely about influential public figures in the private sector. When wealthy individuals can use the threat of lawsuit to sway coverage of their questionable actions--or to jeopardize the employment of a journalist who had the temerity to report on those actions--it's dangerous for all of us. That's true whether the wealthy individual in question is a CEO, a politician, or just the owner of a regionally prominent NFL franchise.
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