Careful What You Put In Your Work Email, Sony Edition

Famous supercilious person Aaron Sorkin, who never stops distrusting the public no matter how much acclaim he gets or popularity he achieves, has been having a terrible week. First he sparked Jonathan Franzen levels of scorn on Twitter when we discovered that he had ejected a writer from the “Newsroom” offices for arguing with him about a badly handled campus rape plot line in an upcoming episode. The writer’s objections were born out when the episode aired to general condemnation. (Key quote: “’The Newsroom’ was never going to be my favorite series, but I didn’t expect it to make my head blow off.”)

Now, thanks to recently leaked internal Sony Pictures documents, we discover that he is not merely a jerk to his subordinates; he treats everyone in Hollywood, including producers and studio heads, with the same corrosive disdain.

For the record, I frown on doxxing people by putting their emails up on the Internets. It’s not fair to make someone’s personal correspondence public, subject to scrutiny and criticism, simply because you’re mad at them. I even felt a twinge for Edelman, America’s Most Worthless Human Being: it sucks to be pilloried for an exchange you thought was private. Also, in case you missed, it, he has apologized.

On the other hand, I was warned in college never to put anything in an email — ESPECIALLY not a work email — that I wouldn’t write on a postcard and leave in the park.

Sorkin never got that warning, I guess, or he forgot it.

Here are two of the emails he sent to Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures, when she broke some bad news about the Steve Jobs bio-pic he was writing for her. The first would make Professor Frink’s Sarcasm Detector explode.

The second is less venomous but equally charming.

“I don’t know who Michael Fassbender is.” Dude. Do not put your ignorance in a work email as though it is a badge of honor. Fassbender’s been in everything over the past few years from Inglorious Basterds to Twelve Years a Slave, from the X-Men movies to Shame. Those are not small movies. Audiences know him quite well — intimately, even.

Of course, Sorkin is not the only boss/employee who comes off badly here. Scott Rudin is clearly some sort of hell beast unleashed on Earth as punishment for generations of sins. It’s less exciting to see his profane, abusive work emails, though, because his bad character is old news: Gawker called him one of New York’s worst bosses back in 2007. The comments on that thread are worth reading, by the way. They’re filled with delightful stories.

There are a few clear, applicable morals to this PR disaster:

1) Don’t put anything incriminating in a work email, ever ever. Ever.

2) Don’t work for a truly bad boss, even if it’s a famous Entertainment Industry person like Aaron Sorkin or Scott Rudin. Life’s too short.

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