December 1, 2022

Sparks at Disney Shareholder Meeting Over ABC News Bias

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 the Disney shareholder meeting , in response to a question by 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 bumperstickers 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. Liberals have been successfully using corporate America in its attacks on the freedom movement for years. 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 marks 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.


Disney’s Iger Calls ABC News “Fair and Balanced”

Disney Chief Robert Iger Calls ABC News “Fair and Balanced” In Response to Media Bias Question at Shareholder Meeting Today

But that’s the Fox News Slogan….?

Iger Declines to Apologize for ABC News’ Role in Empowering President Obama’s “If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Can Keep your Health Care Plan” Lie

Portland, OR / Washington DC – Responding to a question about bias at Disney-owned ABC News at today’s Disney shareholder meeting, Disney chief Robert Iger channeled the slogan of the Fox News Channel, calling ABC News “fair and balanced.”

Iger was responding to a question from Justin Danhof of the National Center for Public Policy Research, who asked Iger, in part:

A September Rasmussen poll found 53 percent of Americans believe the IRS broke the law and 23 percent aren’t sure. A Quinnipiac University poll found Americans 76 percent to 17 percent want a special prosecutor appointed. Even Democrats want a special prosecutor by a 2-1 margin.

Yet from July 2013 through January 2014, a period with over two-dozen breaking stories on this matter, including the Justice Department’s appointment of an Obama donor to head its investigation, ABC News devoted a mere eight words to this story. Seven months, eight words.

A second example, and then I will stop. In 2009, before the Affordable Care Act became law, Charlie Gibson did an ABC News “Fact Check” segment on President Obama’s “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan” promise. ABC reported that critics questioning the President’s pledge were wrong to do so.

That’s the pledge that later was awarded PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” – but by then ObamaCare was already law of the land.

President Obama has apologized and said he is “sorry” to those who thought they could keep their health insurance “based on assurances” they got from him. Do you wish to say anything right now to the millions of people who unexpectedly lost their insurance – perhaps apologize for the role ABC News played in causing that harm?

Iger declined to apologize for the role his news organizations played in letting the White House mislead the American people, and spoke up for ABC News, saying in part:

I actually stand by ABC News, who I believe not only presents the news in a fair and balanced manner, but behaves in a high integrity kind of way.

While there are times that critics have come forward and pointed out mistakes they have made, overall, the quality of our news is something we should be proud of.

Iger did twice say he would pass the National Center’s concerns on to ABC News.

An audio recording of the entire Danhof-Iger exchange is on YouTube here.

At 2013’s Disney shareholder meeting, Iger told Danhof, who directs the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project, that ABC News has been “guilty of making mistakes.”

“If ABC News is going to become ‘fair & balanced’ in the manner of the Fox News Channel in the coming year, we very much look forward to congratulating Mr. Iger at the 2015 shareholder meeting,” said Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research. “Unlike people who rely on ABC for news, Fox News viewers know what’s going in with the IRS scandal story, and no one who watches Fox News has been surprised to lose their health insurance plan under ObamaCare.”

“In the meantime,” Ridenour added, “it is interesting that the phrase ‘fair and balanced’ came off Mr. Iger’s tongue so easily. One gets the impression he hears it a lot – perhaps he watches Fox News regularly?”

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is a leading free-market corporate activist group. In 2013, Free Enterprise Project representatives attended 33 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, media bias, gun rights and many more important public policy issues. Today’s Apple meeting was the National Center’s fourth attendance at a shareholder meeting so far in 2014.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a Disney shareholder, as are National Center executives.

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.

Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.