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Disney’s Iger Defends Company’s Stance in Political Clashes and Talks Content Strategy

Bob Iger, the CEO of Walt Disney, is not known for seeking confrontation, but he’s not one to shy away from defending his company against attacks either. This steadfast approach is evident in Disney’s (DIS) ongoing legal battles with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and in Iger’s recent comments about Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla (TSLA) and owner of X (formerly Twitter).

At The New York Times Dealbook Summit, Iger discussed various issues, including Disney’s content strategy and its response to political controversies. Regarding the company’s battle with DeSantis, Iger highlighted that Disney’s opposition to the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill was a matter of principle, viewing the governor’s retaliation as an attack on free speech. He described the state’s takeover of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which had previously granted Disney governance over its land, as “anti-American and antibusiness.”

Discussing Disney’s content, Iger emphasized the balance between entertainment and positive messaging, citing “Black Panther” and “Coco” as examples. He clarified that while positive messages are welcome, they should not overshadow the primary goal of entertaining audiences. Iger acknowledged that some creators might have lost sight of this entertainment focus, veering towards ‘woke’ characters and narratives.

Iger also touched upon Disney’s stance on various societal issues, explaining that the company’s positions are always evaluated for their relevance to Disney’s business, employees, and shareholders. He used environmental stewardship as an example, noting that a healthy planet is essential for the success of their theme parks and overall business.

The Disney CEO also addressed the company’s decision to halt advertising on X following Musk’s acquisition. Despite respecting Musk, Iger felt that Musk’s public positions and the association with X were not positively aligned with Disney’s image.

Iger’s comments come at a time when Disney is navigating a complex landscape of social, political, and economic challenges. His leadership style, focusing on defending the company’s values and strategic objectives, demonstrates a nuanced approach to corporate governance in today’s polarized environment.

Disney’s approach under Iger’s leadership, especially in these politically charged times, reflects a commitment to its core values and business goals while navigating the delicate balance between societal engagement and corporate interests.