No, Chuck Todd, the Problem is Dan Snyder and the Redskins

By Jack Limpert

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Since Dan Snyder bought the Redskins, it’s been all downhill for everything in Washington. Photograph courtesy of Flickr.

Chuck Todd, moderator of Meet the Press, is a sports fan and yesterday, in response to the late-season meltdown of the Washington Nationals, he tweeted: “Why has the disease of Washington dysfunction infected every Washington sports franchise? Can we blame this on Congress and the WH too?”

In response, journalist David M. Drucker tweeted: “Viable argument that it’s actually Redskins dysfunction has spread to govt & other sports franchises.”

I’m with Drucker—the Redskins dysfunction has been going on for 16 years, ever since Dan Snyder bought the team, and every fall the Redskins cast a pall over the city’s politics and journalism. Nationals dysfunction seems temporary—the Nats have sensible owners and a smart general manager so there’s reason to hope for a better season next year.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder approaches each off-season by trying to come up with a dramatic move aimed at exciting the fans. Remember the expensive signings of free agents Deion Sanders, Jeff George, and Albert Haynesworth? How about the trade that gave away three number ones and a number two to draft Robert Griffin III? Mortgaging the future to draft a high-profile Heisman Trophy winner is classic Snyder. And now, still losing, the Redskins have benched Griffin.

As for Todd’s wanting to blame Congress and the White House for the Nats season, yes, Washington pols increasingly behave like Dan Snyder—what can we do to win the next election and damn the future—which fits Drucker’s tweet that the Redskins should be blamed for all of Washington’s failures.

The challenge for editors is to avoid the Snyder trap, to balance short-term and long-term thinking. In the pre-digital era, it was easier to think long-term. You encouraged good reporting and good writing that brought readers back year after year. Now the thinking too often is what can we do to bring the reader back tomorrow.

The temptation with short-term editorial thinking is it’s easy and cheap to have lots of attitude and cleverness. Don’t be a Dan Snyder: What brings readers back is good reporting and good writing. It’s always been journalism’s winning strategy.

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