Disney's new/returning CEO Bob Iger has been at the helm for less than two weeks, and he's already talking like he wants to move the company in a better direction than the one charted under ousted CEO Bob Chapek that saw the company ostracize and lose the support of millions of consumers.
The clues as to Iger's plans for Disney during his two-year return stint came from his first town hall meeting with Walt Disney Company employees, in which he answered several questions on some recent Disney controversies, including the losing fights it picked with Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.
As conservative culture warrior Chris Rufo explained in a recent dispatch after obtaining video of the town hall meeting, Iger "retreats from the company's most controversial political positions and moves toward neutrality in the culture war."
EXCLUSIVE: I have obtained video from returning Disney CEO Bob Iger's first town hall with employees, in which he signals that he will work to "quiet things down" politically and move toward neutrality in the culture war.https://t.co/ZBGdHhxFVS pic.twitter.com/ZbMCZN4MlG— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) November 29, 2022
When asked about Florida's parental rights law — one that Disney publicly opposed by advancing false smears that the bill contained a "don't say gay" provision, Rufo reports that Iger "said the company would still promote 'inclusion,' but signaled that he would adopt a different posture than his predecessor and suggested that the company will 'listen to [its] audience' and 'have respect for the people that [it's] serving.'"
While it remains to be seen what Iger's plan ends up looking like in practice, the sentiment is at least a refreshing step toward realizing the audience deserves to be respected and not forced into a certain point of view.
What's more, as Rufo also noted, Iger "also suggested that the company made a mistake in its fight against Governor DeSantis, which resulted in the state legislature stripping Disney of its special administrative status." Iger told employees that he "was sorry to see us dragged into that battle," adding the "State of Florida has been important to us for a long time. And we have been very important to the State of Florida," Iger continued. "That is something I'm extremely mindful of and will articulate if I get the chance."
While Iger's goals may sound like a shift in the right direction, it was ousted CEO Bob Chapek's caving to a vocal minority of his employees that saw him drag Disney into the fight against DeSantis. Iger, however, seems to have a plan to address such employee discontent as well. "Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy? Of course not. It can be distracting, and it can have a negative impact on the company," Iger noted. "And to the extent that I can work to kind of quiet things down, I'm going to do that."
As Rufo rightly noted, "the conservative strategy was to damage Disney's brand, make the company pay a political price, and force the company to declare neutrality. So far, it appears that strategy is working."
Indeed. As Townhall has reported previously, Disney's favorability plummeted after it picked and lost its fight against Florida Republicans. Their recent projects have missed box office goals, and the company reported a massive $1.5 billion loss in its streaming business.