Was Sony’s Amy Pascal having a meeting with the Reverend Al Sharpton to brainstorm ways to improve the portrayal of African Americans in Hollywood, or was she given the shakedown by Sharpton? The New York Post believes it is the latter.
Among many of the compromising emails that were leaked from Sony, some contained Amy Pascal’s writing that President Obama’s preferences in films are based on his race, suggesting that is the reason he likes “Django Unchained” and “12 Years a Slave.” The scandalous email apparently left Sony execs “shaking in their boots” and “afraid of the Rev.” Pascal flew to meet with Al Sharpton and the two agreed to form a “working group” on the issue of race and Hollywood.
The New York Post posits that its looks like a classic “Sharpton Shakedown, ” and has shown in the past that Sharpton’s criticisms of a company based on race were often stopped in their tracks by donations to his National Action Network or NAN. The group asked GM for donations since 2000, but none were made. In 2006, Sharpton threatened to boycott GM over the closing of a dealership in the Bronx with a black owner, and after picketing and protest, GM wrote checks to the NAN. After criticizing Honda for not having enough African American representation, donations followed. Similarly, Pepsi made Sharpton an adviser at $25, 000 a year after he said that there were not enough African Americans in the company’s ads.
Some donations are pre-emptive. In 2008, Plainfield Asset management made a $500, 000 non profit educational group Reform Now. Funds were channeled to NAN. It turns out that Plainfield had a $250 million stake in Capital Play, a gambling concern that employed a lobbyist named Charlie King, an acting executive director of NAN. Harold Levy, former NY City Schools chancellor, denied the donation was to get Sharpton’s favor, but the NAN got an additional $100, 000 from AEG Consortium, the successor to Capital Play.
Some said Sharpton lobbied AEG hard, but an AEG executive said in an email, “We are going to need it. We are going to need … Sharpton to piss on hard rock.”