NEW YORK — In a relaxed interview with L.A. radio statesman Michael Jackson, Disney topper Michael Eisner disputed that the right-wing hosts carried on ABC’s radio stations have the same partisan influence as “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which the Mouse House refused to distribute.
Eisner said he just didn’t believe it was right to release Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit” so close to the presidential election.
Jackson, however, asked Eisner how he could reconcile that decision with the fact that ABC radio stations carry some of “the most hard-edged, in-your-face, obviously pro-Bush hosts that never concern themselves about balance.”
“That’s true. We also have the other side of the aisle pretty well represented at the Walt Disney Co. on radio and on television. We’re accused constantly — ABC News — of being on the left side of the aisle,” Eisner said.
ABC radio features the shows of conservatives including Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh.
Portions of the 25-minute interview will air today on KNX-AM, marking Jackson’s return to the airwaves. He will be producing regular interview segments for the station.
Eisner — reiterating that he found “Fahrenheit” entertaining — said Disney sticks by its decision regarding the film but that distributing the Miramax-financed doc would haven’t been as big of a problem had the release date been January 2005.
“We’re a song-and-dance company, we’re a family company, irrespective of how any individual in the company feels politically. As far as the company is concerned, we are not going to become partisan,” Eisner said.
Eisner said too much has been made of Disney’s relationship with Miramax, chalking it up to the media’s fascination with people “highly writeable” and full of emotion. “Miramax has a couple of those,” he said.
Regarding Disney’s financial interest in “Fahrenheit,” Eisner wouldn’t say much except that money coming in from the film will go to Disney-directed charities. He also wouldn’t talk about Disney’s future with Pixar.
In another highlight, Jackson asked Eisner if he “needs” to work.
“Yes,” Eisner said. “I need to work for the economy of the soul; maybe not for the economy of going to Ralph’s.”