Former Schools Chancellor Cathie Black had a brief tenure that began and ended with heavy criticism of her lack of education experience. Now, a series of emails released by the city reveals that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s staff scrambled to gather support for the publishing executive by seeking the support of prominent female celebrities.
The emails between City Hall staffers and Black were released after a journalist filed a request for them under the Freedom of Information Act. An appeals court rejected the city’s request to keep the emails private, The Daily News reports.
City officials compiled a list of notable women from whom they would seek endorsements as well as talking points to be used to convince them, according to the emails. Among the listed women were Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem, Whoopi Goldberg, Donna Karan and Caroline Kennedy.
When they successfully earned the support of Winfrey, they emailed about the Daily News cover which had the headline, “O BACKS CATHIE.”
When Black asked Micah Lasher, previously Bloomberg’s director of state legislative affairs, if she should be concerned about a New York Times article that highlighted her lack of experience with handling the challenges of the New York City public school system, he replied, “All our focus needs to be on getting allies to come out in support and on getting you prepared for a debut as soon as possible.”
Black, who was previously chairman of Hearst Magazines, stepped down from her role as schools chancellor after just 95 days on the job.