Laurene Powell Jobs Employs 'Bare-Knuckle' PR Firm That Defended Harvey Weinstein, Jussie Smollett

Apple widow owns The Atlantic, has invested millions in Democratic-aligned publications

February 16, 2022

Sunshine Sachs, the crisis PR firm best known for representing Hollywood rapist Harvey Weinstein and hate crime hoaxer Jussie Smollett, is working with Laurene Powell Jobs, the Apple widow and billionaire investor who has funded Democratic-aligned efforts to combat "fake news."

An employee of the controversial PR firm on Wednesday contacted the Washington Free Beacon on Powell Jobs's behalf to request a correction to our story about Good Information Inc., the "non-partisan" media investment firm founded by Democratic operative Tara McGowan to "counter disinformation online."

The Free Beacon initially reported that Powell Jobs, an important investor in McGowan's digital firm ACRONYM, was also funding McGowan's most recent venture, Good Information Inc., which acquired assets from ACRONYM as part of its formation in 2021. Left-wing billionaires George Soros and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman are among the firm's primary investors. Powell Jobs—who inherited a $20 billion fortune from her late husband, Apple founder Steve Jobs—is not, according to the Sunshine Sachs employee. The Free Beacon regrets the error.

Sunshine Sachs, one of the country's most prominent crisis PR firms, was founded by Ken Sunshine, a longtime Democratic operative known for his "bare-knuckle" tactics; he previously served as an adviser to disgraced ex-governor Andrew Cuomo (D., N.Y.). Sunshine was the official spokesman for Harvey Weinstein in 2015, when the Hollywood mogul was actively involved in efforts to smear the reputation of an Italian model who accused him of groping her. Weinstein was convicted of rape in 2020 and sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Sunshine has also represented Meghan Markle, who hired the firm in 2019, as well as Jussie Smollett, the little-known actor convicted on multiple counts of disorderly conduct after staging a hate crime against himself. The PR firm has admitted to using shady tactics, including paying editors to edit its clients' Wikipedia pages without disclosing the conflict of interest, a violation of the site's terms of use. Journalist Ronan Farrow accused his former employer, NBC News, of hiring a "Wikipedia whitewasher" in an effort to downplay the connections between network boss Noah Oppenheim, Weinstein, and Matt Lauer, the disgraced former NBC anchor.

The Sunshine Sachs employee said the firm provides communications support to Emerson Collective, the investment company Powell Jobs founded in 2004. Described by the New York Times as a "social impact firm," Emerson Collective has invested millions in U.S. media companies. In addition to funding ACRONYM, Emerson owns a majority stake in the Atlantic and was an early backer of the short-form news blog Axios, as well as Ozy Media, the now defunct media company under FBI investigation for attempting to defraud investors. Emerson has also donated to left-wing media outlets such as Mother Jones and ProPublica.

Mainstream publications have lauded Powell Jobs for her patronage of the journalism industry and other left-wing causes. In 2018, the Washington Post praised her efforts to assemble "a kind of Justice League of practical progressives" at Emerson Collective, including several former members of the Obama administration. Months later, the New York Times touted her benevolent desire to "turbocharge storytelling in this fractured digital age."

Powell Jobs has a mixed record as a media investor. She poured millions into Ozy Media, founded by her friend Carlos Watson, only to see the company implode in scandal. The Atlantic and other Emerson-funded outlets slashed staff and cut salaries in 2020. ACRONYM has been criticized for peddling "hyperlocal partisan propaganda" on behalf of the Democratic Party via its former subsidiary, Courier Newsroom, a collection of websites that present themselves as independent news outlets despite funding partisan advertisements that attack Republican candidates.

Courier was acquired by Good Information Inc. in 2021 for an undisclosed sum roughly one year after being the subject of a Federal Election Commission complaint that alleged the organization must register as a political committee due to its affiliation with the Democratic Party.