For Release: March 8, 2017
Contact: Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or cell (703) 477-7476 or [email protected]
Disney's Response to Fake News: Deny, Deny, Deny
National Center for Public Policy Research Takes President Trump's Fight Against "Enemy of the People" Media to Disney Shareholder Meeting
Disney CEO Robert Iger Claims ABC News "Extremely Fair" - Despite Wikileaks Exposure of Documents Showing Hillary Clinton Campaign Coordinated Coverage with ABC's George Stephanopoulos
Claims ESPN On-Air Staff's Criticism of ESPN Bias is "Completely Exaggerated"
Iger Claims ABC News Skepticism of Trump is Similar to its Skepticism of Obama
In Other Meeting News, National Center Ushers Defeat of Liberal Shareholder Proposal Designed to Stop Disney from Working with Pro-Business Organizations Such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Denver, CO / Washington, D.C. - Taken to task once again by the conservative shareholder activist organization National Center for Public Policy Research about political bias, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger dug in his heels so much at his company's annual shareholder meeting today he claimed ABC News' treatment of Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama is similar.
"I don't think that Mr. Iger has turned on ABC News or ESPN in a very long time," said National Center General Counsel and Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who attended today's meeting and questioned Iger. "If he bothered to watch his networks, he would realize what President Donald Trump and millions of Americans do - that Disney's media platforms are purveyors of fake news."
"When we presented Mr. Iger with very specific examples of bias and failures of basic journalistic ethics, he dismissed these concerns as being exaggerated. Even when we asked him about a top ABC journalist colluding with a political campaign to smear a perceived political opponent, he claimed he was proud of ABC's efforts and that the network operates in an extremely fair way," added Danhof.
In his prepared remarks, Danhof stated:
WikiLeaks has provided plenty of evidence that you are not requiring your news organizations to be politically-neutral. After ABC News' George Stephanopoulos interviewed Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer, WikiLeaks exposed communications appearing to show operatives for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign working with Stephanopoulos to delegitimize Schweizer and his work.
WikiLeaks also exposed an email from a top liberal donor to Mrs. Clinton's campaign chairman in which it was alleged you wanted "to be helpful" to the campaign.
Danhof also noted the Disney-owned ESPN is increasingly focusing on liberal social causes rather than sports. Danhof said:
It is not just outsiders who have these concerns. An ESPN host claims the network is obsessed with bashing conservatives. He recently said, "I feel like there's so many people that I work with that every show, every topic, every angle on it, is hoping to be... destroying the [political] right on every single thing that comes up... I hear it every single day." Agreeing, his cohost asked: "Can you imagine if I teased this show and said: 'coming up, why all of you are wrong about Trump and why he's awesome?'" The host replied: "We wouldn't make it through the commercial."
Danhof's entire question, as prepared for delivery, is available here and can be heard below.
Iger responded that he is "proud of the efforts of ABC News," claiming that Disney-owned news organizations act in an "extremely fair way." He claimed comments about ESPN bias made by Danhof and ESPN's own staff are "completely exaggerated." He justified negative news coverage of President Trump because "news can be an adversary."
Danhof responded to Iger that coverage of Presidents Trump and Obama by ABC News and ESPN were not similarly adversarial.
In other meeting business, Danhof urged Disney investors to reject an anti-free speech proposal presented by Zevin Asset Management - a proposal that then was defeated. The proposal took issue with Disney's association, and even any potential association, with pro-business organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Rebutting Zevin's attacks on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Restaurant Association in particular, Danhof stated:
Concerning Disney's relationship with the National Restaurant Association, the proponent claims: "No doubt Disney's membership dues to the association known (for their lobbying muscle) as 'the other NRA' go to lobbying against fair pay and working conditions." This is a baseless claim. The National Restaurant Association works to expand employee freedoms in ways that positively impact millions of Americans and combats onerous state and federal regulations. Concerning Disney's relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Zevin fully admits that it doesn't even know "if Disney currently belongs to the Chamber" but still wants the company's investors to reject the Chamber based on the Chamber's opposition to unnecessary and costly Environmental Protection Agency plans to curb power plants.
Zevin's guilt-by-association tactic harkens back to an era when folks were asked "are you now or have you ever been..." That's an issue Disney knows something about.
Danhof's full statement against Zevin Asset Management's proposal, as prepared for delivery, is available for download here and can be heard below.
The National Center issued a press release on March 7 advising Disney shareholders to reject Zevin Asset Management's proposal. The proposal, and Disney's response to it, are available on pages 61-63 of the company's proxy statement, which is available for download here. In preliminary results announced at the meeting, the proposal was defeated after receiving less than a third of shareholders' votes.
"Corporate America is under assault from a twisted web of coordinated, liberal activists that pose as good governance proponents," said Danhof. "From Zevin Asset Management, to As You Sow, to Ceres, to the SEIU, to the Center for Media & Democracy and many dozens more, liberal activist groups are seeking to use corporations as tools to advance far-left policies on issues such as health care and the environment. But more than anything, this movement is about ending one thing that many liberals simply abhor - free speech. Disney's investors should be proud that they saw through Zevin's false good government guise and rejected its anti-free speech agenda."
"Today's meeting was hijacked by anti-free speech leftists from beginning to end," noted Danhof. "Using the Zevin proposal as a launching point, activists representing numerous liberal organizations demanded that Mr. Iger quit his role on President Donald Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum. These activists proved our point that the Zevin proposal - and the left's overall corporate activist mission - has nothing to do with good governance. Rather, the left is in the business of creating enemy lists and dictating which politicians and organizations businesses can engage with. As the left fails to win the hearts and minds of the American people, they are now simply trying to silence those with whom they disagree. How sad."
Launched in 2007, the National Center for Public Policy Research'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. Since 2014 alone, National Center representatives have participated in nearly 100 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. Disney's meeting marks its third shareholder meeting so far in 2017.
In 2016, the Free Enterprise Project was featured in the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the Fox News Channel's "Cavuto," the Drudge Report, the Financial Times, Crain's Chicago Business, the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Lifezette, the Seattle Times, the Quad City Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune among many others. The Free Enterprise Project was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kim Strassel's 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).
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. Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements. To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.