Freedom Rider: Skip Gates and Sony Exposed by Wikileaks

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

“Intellectual entrepreneur” Henry Louis Gates is in the business of packaging history to fit the needs of the rich and powerful, from Wall Street to Hollywood. He conspired with the CEO of Sony to whitewash Ben Affleck’s ancestry of slaveholder taint. In America, the truth-tellers are fugitives and professional liars are role models.

Freedom Rider: Skip Gates and Sony Exposed by Wikileaks

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Gates is celebrated as a role model for black success when his fame and wealth derive from currying favor with white people and demeaning black people.”

Wikileaks continues to do a great service with its revelations of government and corporate wrong doing. Because Wikileaks promotes transparency and truth telling it has made some very powerful enemies. Paypal, MasterCard and Visa all succumbed to United States government pressure in denying Wikileaks the ability to accept donations from supporters. Julian Assange, the organization’s founder, was granted asylum by the Ecuadorian government and is living at that nation’s embassy in London. If he travels to Sweden to answers questions about charges lodged against him there he would probably be extradited to the United States.

But Wikileaks lives on and that is a very good thing. Wikileaks has published over 170,000 emails hacked most probably by a former employee of Sony Pictures Entertainment. A few of those emails concerned Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, the Public Broadcasting Service and their mutual decision to violate the ethic rules which are supposed to govern their activities. Gates did so because a wealthy white celebrity wanted something covered up and because another rich white man at Sony advised the ethically challenged professor to do it.

Gates hosts a PBS series, Finding Your Roots, which features genealogical information about famous people. One of his subjects was actor/director Ben Affleck. Affleck wanted to talk about his “liberal” credentials and his freedom rider mother, but didn’t want it known that he is also descended from a slave holder.

Instead of upholding professional integrity and the ethics espoused by PBS, Gates emailed his friend Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony, to ask for his advice. Lynton has no connection with the Gates program but he is a wealthy, influential man and thus important to someone who calls himself “an intellectual entrepreneur.” Of course, no one becomes a CEO by being ethical. It isn’t surprising that he advised censorship or that Gates and PBS hypocritically went along.

How does Gates, crowned as the go-to guy on black history, know what the Affleck ancestor did or didn’t do?”

It is telling that Gates chose not to take the underhanded route on his own. Instead he felt the need to tell Lynton that he was siding with the white man whose slave holding ancestor he deemed to be not so bad. “And he wasn't even a bad guy. We don't demonize him at all.” How does Gates, crowned as the go-to guy on black history, know what the Affleck ancestor did or didn’t do? We do know that he is ready to absolve any and every evil perpetrated against black people if it helps him to curry favor with rich white people.

Gates was already known to be a charlatan and a champion suck up, so the Wikileaks emails are perhaps more entertaining than they are revealing. At one point he whines, “He’s a megastar. What do we do?” And later admits he is wrong when he says, “To do this would be a violation of PBS rules, actually, even for Batman.” The exchange is also interesting because it shows the reliance that Gates and others of the black misleaders have on rich people like Lynton. Lynton is also a director of the Rand corporation defense contractor and a major contributor to the Democratic Party. Of course, he socializes with President Obama too.

Sony is more than a purveyor of entertainment. It participates in a lot of unsavory activity, including taking orders from the American government when it needs a helping hand in propaganda production. Again, we must thank the Wikileaks publication of the Sony emails.

In October, 2014, Richard Stengel, Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs, also emailed Lynton with a plea for help. He wanted to know how to go about improving the government’s propaganda apparatus. Those weren’t the words that were used, but that was the bottom line.

“As you could see, we have plenty of challenges in countering ISIL narratives in the Middle East and Russian narratives in central and eastern Europe. In both cases, there are millions and millions of people in those regions who are getting a skewed version of reality. And it's not something that the State Department can do on its own [by] any means. Following up on our conversation, I'd love to convene a group of media executives who can help us think about better ways to respond to both of these large challenges. This is a conversation about ideas, about content and production, about commercial possibilities. I promise you it will be interesting, fun, and rewarding.”

We wouldn’t know about the existence of COINTELPRO if activists hadn’t stolen documents from an FBI office in 1971.”

Lynton later replied with the names of five people, not only from Sony, but Fox and Disney as well. The CEO was eager to be helpful and after giving the names asked, “Is that enough for you?” Perhaps the United States government shouldn’t support jihadists like ISIL or try to undermine the Russian government. There would then be no need for panicked communications with powerful corporate suits.

Whistle blowers are the most important defenders of what is left of our freedoms. We wouldn’t know about the existence of COINTELPRO if activists hadn’t stolen documents from an FBI office in 1971. We wouldn’t have seen up close the atrocities committed by American troops in Iraq if Chelsea Manning hadn’t doomed herself by giving the world access to the awful images. We wouldn’t know that the NSA has records of all our phone calls and emails if Edward Snowden hadn’t risked his freedom to inform us.

The rich academics and CEOs are held up as exemplary people when they are nothing of the sort. Julian Assange is holed up under house arrest because he reveals the interlocking webs of government and corporate corruption. Gates is celebrated as a role model for black success when his fame and wealth derive from currying favor with white people and demeaning black people.

As for Sony, it does what corporations always do. They decide who will and won’t be elected to public office, and then work hand in hand to make sure that their mutual interests are served. They insure that ambitious people are beholden to them and to their dictates. It would all make a great plot for a movie. Perhaps someone will ask Lynton for advice on that subject.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.