Sony Hack: Racially Insensitive Emails About Obama Prompt Weak Apologies

Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal (Image:
Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal (Image:

The fallout from the Sony Pictures hack continued on Thursday, as disconcerting and racially insensitive emails between film producer Scott Rudin and Sony's co-chairwoman, Amy Pascal, were posted by hackers and reported by news sites around the world.

In the emails, which were first reported by BuzzFeed, Rudin and Pascal discuss President Obama's movie tastes in the lead-up to a November 2013 breakfast for the president that was arranged by DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. In the discussion, Pascal asks Rudin, "Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?" referring to Django Unchained, which centers on a freed slave. Rudin counters, "12 YEARS," referring to 12 Years a Slave, and goes on to speculate that Obama may also be a fan of Kevin Hart.

Rudin and Pascal both issued apologies on Thursday. Rudin explained that he was trying to be funny but now, "in the cold light of day," realizes his attempted jokes were thoughtless. Pascal's apology was even lamer, as she lamented, "Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended."

The cringeworthy emails are a lesson to top executives and entry level employees alike: if you wouldn't tweet it or write it in skywriting, don't email it. The Internet and the servers that power it have an incredibly long memory. Private communication, as Pascal so woefully characterizes it in her apology, isn't safe but rather is stored on multiple redundant hard drives that, as the Sony hack shows, can be accessed across the world.

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  • Michael Bergen

    Good ol nitty gritty executive truths.

  • yeah

    This is the kind of thing that pisses me off. So what if they sent those emails? So what if it was ‘insensitive’? If you start taking everybody who ever said anything racially or any other sort of insensitive to task, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who has never said anything that may be construed as insensitive.