For Release: March 3, 2016
Contact: Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or cell (703) 477-7476 or [email protected]
Disney's Robert Iger Denies ABC News is Biased at Disney Shareholder Meeting
Tells National Center for Public Policy Research That Media Bias at ABC is "Very Very Rare"
Also Denies That Former Clinton Administration Official and Clinton Foundation Donor George Stephanopoulos Has Bias in Covering Presidential Race
In Other Meeting Business, Liberal Group's Effort to Separate Disney from the National Restaurant Association Fails after Exposure by National Center
Liberals are Attacking the Food Service Industry Through Shareholder Proposals
Chicago, IL / Washington, D.C. - At today's annual meeting of Disney shareholders, in response to a question from the National Center for Public Policy Research's Justin Danhof, Disney CEO Robert Iger claimed bias at ABC News, which is owned by Disney, is "very very rare."
The exchange came after Danhof noted that Iger told Danhof in 2013 that "we have been guilty of making mistakes" and further said, "we have, at times, either presented the news in... a slightly inaccurate way through mistakes or in ways we weren't necessarily proud of."
Danhof asked Iger today what had been done to reduce bias and inaccuracies since 2013.
In response, Iger claimed Danhof misunderstood Iger's 2013 statement and implied Disney's news operations are already unbiased and do not require improvement.
"Mr. Iger's statement is unbelievable," said Danhof. "In 2013, Mr. Iger conceded that ABC News wasn't perfect. His words were very clear. Now he apparently believes ABC News is perfect, or nearly so - so close to perfect, he apparently has no interest in working to make it better."
"Apparently," Danhof said, "when Iger conceded 'mistakes' in 2013, he was defining the word 'mistakes' differently than everyone else."
"My question to Mr. Iger today was very innocuous," Danhof continued. "I just asked what he had done since 2013 to reduce bias. Reducing bias is something all news companies should strive for, so my question was hardly controversial. Mr. Iger's response should be controversial. Although the American people believe the media is biased by a 3-1 margin, Mr. Iger doesn't see it. He told me today that media bias at ABC News is 'very very rare.' When I followed up and asked why so many Americans believe the bias is there, Mr. Iger basically disagreed with the premise. He just doesn't see bias and he does not believe many others do. Poll data doesn't back up his assertion. Media bias is real, and the population knows it, even if the CEO of Disney does not."
Among other comments, Mr. Iger told Danhof, "I do not believe that overall that the American public in general perceives ABC News as biased."
"It is unfortunate and even distressing," said Danhof, "that Robert Iger thinks his company's news product is already all-but-perfect. It must be nice to live in Robert Iger's world, where problems with a product can be brushed away simply by denying they exist. It is a good thing Disney does not have such a cavalier attitude toward product quality when it comes to the safety of its theme park rides."
Mr. Iger also told Danhof that presidential election coverage by ABC's George Stephanopoulos is objective, although Stephanopoulos served in the Clinton Administration and recently donated to the Clinton Foundation. "If George Stephanopoulos were biased he would not be on our air," Iger said.
"No media organization is perfect," Danhof said, "because humans are never perfect. But Iger has just told ABC News employees they don't have to try harder. They are already good enough. What kind of message is that for a CEO to send his workforce? He might as well hand out bumper stickers to employees with the words 'we're already good enough' on them. How inspiring!"
In other shareholder meeting activities, the National Center for Public Policy Research successfully urged the entertainment giant's stockholders to reject a shareholder proposal from Zevin Asset Management that attacked Disney's engagement with free enterprise organizations such as the National Restaurant Association.
Justin Danhof, who spoke at the meeting in opposition to the Zevin proposal, said:
At today's meeting of Disney shareholders, we stopped the left's latest attack on free enterprise in its tracks. Zevin Asset Management, part of a broad network of liberal shareholder activists, asked Disney's investors to help it pressure the company to end its affiliation with the liberty movement, specifically targeting the National Restaurant Association. Once I explained the truth about the National Restaurant Association and how it helps create and protect jobs and revitalizes local economies, Disney's shareholders soundly rejected the proposal.
Today's vote was a big win for the free enterprise movement. For years, liberals have been successfully using corporate America in their attacks on the freedom movement. Corporate America has often been a willing pawn in the defunding of the free enterprise movement and the suppression of free speech.
Zevin's proposal used the same types of tactics that the left has used to attack and harm the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Chamber of Commerce and Charles and David Koch. However, once I explained the work of the National Restaurant Association - creating community value, good jobs and investment opportunities - the folks at Disney sided with the free enterprise movement.
The restaurant industry provides many Americans with their first work experience, instilling in them invaluable lessons that they carry for life. Zevin and its associates would see those entry-level jobs regulated out of existence and limit the upward mobility of millions of Americans. Today, they failed and liberty won.
More on the National Center's opposition to Zevin's attack on the food service industry is available here.
The National Center's Free Enterprise Project is the nation's preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. In 2014-15, National Center representatives participated in 69 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers' rights and many other important public policy issues. Today's Disney meeting marked its third shareholder meeting of 2016.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.