When Snyder hired Julia Payne, who worked eight years in the communications department of the White House under Bill Clinton, it might turn out to be one of his better moves. Why? Because the person she replaced, Karl Swanson, was loathed by most of the media. And with good reason: Swanson regularly hindered reporters' efforts.
On a few occasions, a reporter would call Swanson to verify a story and he'd turn around and call another outlet (hint: it's the biggest paper in town) and tell them what the other paper was writing. Other times, a reporter would call him to get a quote from Snyder and Swanson would tell them he wasn't commenting on the topic. Then that certain paper would have a quote from him the next day. It's one thing to favor a paper; it's another thing to be dishonest. And Swanson was a public face for the franchise. Not a very good one, either. He regularly ignored many other media members.
But Payne showed there was a new way of thinking at Redskin Park. She chatted with reporters for long stretches during the May minicamps and coaching sessions, getting feedback on how to improve working conditions, etc. Many told her it wouldn't be hard for Snyder: just be a little more accessible and friendly. In private chats he's often been self-deprecating and comes off well. Then that side isn't shown for a while.
That doesn't mean he has to change or like the press--and if unfair stories are written, he has every right to be ticked off.
And don't forget: Jack Kent Cooke was no saint, either. He just surrounded himself with better people. That's what Snyder appears to have done with Payne. She has a plan and wants to make this a positive environment. She wants to be as fair as possible--if Snyder wants to have a cozy relationship with an outlet, that's fine. It happens all the time. Just be fair. With Swanson, that wasn't going to happen.
She also won't take any gruff from Snyder: she worked for Clinton. You can't work for anyone more important than the President.
But Payne can help Snyder. Winning can, too. But she can spin his side much better than Swanson ever could. She can help mend fences or at least make them workable. She's already trying to organize off-the-record luncheons with certain reporters (yours truly included). Things like that go a long way toward improved relations.
In the end, it hardly matters what his image is anyway. Again, winning is all that counts. But people want to like the franchise--even people who cover the team; remember, we're the ones who deal with them on a daily basis, not the fans. It's much, much easier that way. Reporters also cut slack to those who treat them fairly; it's human nature.
This could turn out to be a very wise move by Snyder.
Snyder's rep on the mend?
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