Ex-Disney CEO Bob Iger speaks out on ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law

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Former Disney CEO Bob Iger is doubling down in opposition to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law — whilst his successor, Bob Chapek, continues to take warmth over his ham-fisted response to the laws.

“A lot of these issues are not necessarily political. It’s about right and wrong,” Iger told CNN’s Chris Wallace in an interview that was taped final month. “So I happened to feel, and I tweeted an opinion about the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida. It seemed potentially harmful to kids.”

In the interview, Iger talked of going public on points like local weather change and immigration throughout his 15-year tenure as CEO of the Mouse House, which ended when he stepped down in February 2020, handing the reins to Chapek.

“I had to contend with this a lot, and the filter that I used to determine whether we should or should not weigh in considered a few factors,” Iger stated. “What would its affect have on our staff, on our shareholders and our clients?

“And if any one of those three constituencies had a deep interest in or would be affected by whatever was the matter at hand, then it was something I thought we should consider weighing in on.”

During his tenure as CEO, Iger informed CNN’s Chris Wallace, he needed to grapple with many controversial subjects.
Getty Images

Wallace pressed Iger on whether or not he was involved that “whether it’s right or wrong,” he was “going to tick off people, whether it is on climate change or immigration or gender identity. There are going to be people who aren’t going to like what [you] are saying and maybe that means fewer people will come to the theme park.”

“We never really saw much evidence of that, even though there were threats about boycotts on certain things,” Iger replied. “Again, when you are dealing with right and wrong, and when you are dealing with something that does have a profound impact on your business, I just think you have to do what is right and not worry about the potential backlash to it.”

The interview, which is able to stream later this week on CNN+, marks the second time Iger has voiced his opposition to Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” law, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law final week.

“I’m with the President on this!” Iger had tweeted in late February. “If passed, this bill will put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy.” President Biden earlier had tweeted his opposition to “legislation designed to attack LGBTQI+ kids.”

Iger’s Feb. 24 feedback made waves as he tweeted them out regardless of Chapek’s choice to stay silent on the problem.

“Whatever Bob’s personal politics are, he’s not an activist and does not bring any partisan agenda to work,” Disney’s new chief company affairs officer Geoff Morrell — a former BP govt who helped the UK-based vitality big get better from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 — stated in a press release on the time.

That response sparked outrage at Disney and amongst LGBTQ rights teams, kicking off an almost month-long apology tour by Chapek. Employees at Pixar, Disney’s animation studio, blasted the Mouse House, noting that it had donated to Florida politicians who supported the invoice. Disney staff additionally staged a walkout in late March in protest.

Initially, Disney CEO Bob Chapek opted to not weigh in on the “Don’t Say Gay” laws, sparking outrage amongst Disney staffers.
AP

Chapek’s newest assertion, launched this week, condemned the laws, which was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis. It successfully bans academics from discussing LGBTQ subjects like sexual orientation or gender id with college students till after third grade.

“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that,” Disney stated.

The assertion added: “We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” invoice into law on March 28.
AP

Later within the CNN interview, Iger tackled one other hot-button situation at Disney, specifically his sky-high pay, which hit $65.6 million in 2018. In a current documentary dubbed “The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales,” Disney heiress Abigail Disney contrasted the pay of high execs to theme park custodians who earn $15 an hour.

“You were making that year 1,000 times what the average Disney employee was making. Do you have any misgivings about that?,” Wallace requested.

“I’ve never been defensive about what I made,” Iger responded. “I was paid at a level that was commensurate with what most heads of large media companies were paid throughout my tenure and often less than, interestingly enough, and Disney was among the most complex and the largest and the most successful of them all.”

“If I have regrets, it would be one, and that is that, we were one of the first companies, by the way, to go to $10 an hour as the starting wage,” Iger stated. “We were being pushed to go to $15. There was some hesitation in that regard because of the cost associated with it. We should have done that right away. My opinion.”