Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, said that it is up to studio chiefs to make their own individual decisions on whether to withhold support from President Obama’s re-election campaign.
He himself stopped short of declaring that he is withholding support, but he’s not rushing to write a check any time soon.
“I have been a very early and ardent supporter of the president, but I couldn’t say at this time that I am very enthusiastic about providing support,” he said in an interview. “If you went to Detroit and said, ‘I think the Japanese build better cars,’ I don’t think you would feel a wellspring of support if as a candidate for office you went there for fund-raisers the next week.”
Gianopulos, who was among the studio chiefs who personally lobbied Congress and at the White House last month, said that he has not heard from the administration. He said that he had no plans to attend fund-raising events events on Friday featuring Vice President Joseph Biden.
Studio chiefs were upset with the way that the White House articulated its opposition to the legislation. The administration’s blog post on Saturday cited as problematic provisions for domain name blocking. But it was clear the day before that the provision would be removed from the bills.
Gianopulos described the sentiment toward the White House as “very disappointed” and added, “Certainly that was not well received given the importance of the bill to this community.”
Nevertheless, Gianopulos noted that “nothing is forever” and that there are “still discussions going on with the bill” in which the administration could play a role in pushing it forward.
He acknowledged that the complexities of the legislation made it difficult for supporters to articulate a message, but said that opponents engaged in a “complete distortion of the bill.”
“Somehow that distorted message got traction and that reductive message was more easily transmitted through mass social media,” he said. “It is a lot easier to distort something than it is to take the time to deal with an issue with specificity.”
One question is whether the acrimony will leave lasting fissures between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, which were on opposite sides of the legislation but increasingly are forging business ties and distribution pacts.
“In the end this is a matter of legitimate businesses getting together and saying, ‘How do we deal with these problems in a way that makes sense?””
He added, “At the end of the day there is always the possibility of finding common ground, but it doesn’t always seem that way in the heat of the moment.”