Leaked Sony emails exhibit wealthy elite’s maneuvering to get child into Ivy League school

Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
Emails leaked during last autumn’s hack of Sony Pictures revealed how a connected CEO of a major corporation tried to court favor with an Ivy League university. Michael Lynton was trying to improve the chances of his daughter getting into Brown.

Last week, Wikileaks announced that it had indexed the tens of thousands of leaked emails that Sony has worked vigorously to protect, even going as far as to threaten prosecution against anyone who attempted to access them.

READ MORE: WikiLeaks releases 'The Sony Archives' showing corporation's ties to White House

Among the searchable index are emails in which Michael Lynton, Sony CEO and a Harvard University graduate, is shown in 2013 attempting to improve the Ivy League chances of his daughter, who had applied to both Harvard and Brown University.

Lynton contacted Brown seeking to establish what would become of a million-dollar donation set up as a scholarship for a full-need student at the school. The scholarship was to be in honor of a supposed friend of Lynton’s.

“I was pleased to receive your phone call and to learn that you are still interested in establishing a scholarship for a full-need student in memory of your friend Nathaniel Chapman ‘79,” a Brown representative wrote in response to Lynton’s inquiry. “This would be an enduring memorial to him and to your friendship.”

Chapman “was recruited by the CIA in 1980 to fight the Soviets,” Lynton wrote in an email to Tom Rothman, chairman of TriStar Productions, a Brown alum, and member of the school’s board of trustees.

Through insider dealings, Lynton was soon offered a personal meeting with Brown’s president during an official visit to the campus with his daughter.

Rothman later forwarded an email to Lynton from Brown’s president, Christina Paxson, in which she said“we will certainly look at [Lynton’s daughter’s] application very closely.”

The daughter, Maise Lynton, was eventually accepted into the Brown University’s class of 2019.

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Other emails show Lynton attempting to help his other daughter, Harvard undergraduate Eloise Lynton, to get into a popular class. Via email, Lynton is shown using his brother-in-law, journalist Jonathan Alter, in order to appeal to biology professor Dr. Jerome Groopman, also a writer for New Yorker magazine.

“Huge thanks for calling [Groopman],” Lynton wrote to Alter. “Should I drop him a relaxed email after you speak with him to say how keen Eloise is on taking the class?”

Alter responded with optimism.

“Just talked to Jerry. He said she has to rank it number one to get in and I told him that she has. That would still leave him with twice as many people as he has room for but he knows Eloise has a personal reason for wanting to be in the class and it sure sounds like she’ll get in. He said you should not call him.”

Leaked emails also revealed that Lynton corresponded with T Magazine editor Deborah Needleman and her husband, Slate Group chief Jacob Weisberg, in order to get Eloise an internship. Needleman and Weisberg responded positively.

“Michael, I talked to Deborah and she¹d love to help if she can,” Weisberg wrote. “The trick might be coming up with some kind of project that wouldn’t run afoul of employment rules. And for that, it might help her to have a little more idea about what Eloise is most interested in. Or perhaps Eloise can come see her. Hoping something works out.”

“Send her my way!! Xx,” Needleman added in a separate email minutes later.