James Dolan, the executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Co., defended the decision to send the Rockettes to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration during a sometimes contentious meeting with the dancers on Dec. 27.
According to Marie Claire, which apparently obtained audio of the private meeting, Dolan called the inauguration a “great national event” but said that it didn’t mean that the Rockettes support Trump. The Madison Square Garden Co. owns the Rockettes.
At one point, according to Marie Claire, Dolan talked of the need to tolerate differing opinion from those who backed Trump. One dancer asked him, “I mean, it just sounds like you’re asking us to be tolerant of intolerance.”
“Yeah, in a way, I guess we are doing that,” Dolan allegedly replied. “What other choices do we have? What else would you suggest?”
After the announcement was made that the Rockettes would perform at the inaugural, their union and the Madison Square Garden Co. clarified that attendance was voluntary.
He also pushed back on the idea that performing at the inauguration would hurt the Rockettes brand.
“A good portion of people voted for this person,” he said. “Hopefully they will like our brand. If 1% of 1% of them come to our show, we’re going to do great.”
After the story posted, The Madison Square Garden Co. issued a statement from its chief communications officer, Barry Watkins, objecting to the way that the story leaked to the media and the decision by Marie Claire to publish it.
“This is one person who continues to attempt to represent the entire team of Rockettes,” Watkins said. “This time it’s in a story that is the result of an unauthorized recording that violated the confidentiality of all of her sister Rockettes. While Mr. Dolan stands behind everything he said during the meeting, no one in that room believed they were speaking publicly. Everyone in the meeting had the chance to speak their mind in a safe setting, and many did. Her secret recording was deceitful and cowardly and has betrayed all of her fellow Rockettes. Posting this story is beneath the ethical standards of Hearst. We are deeply disappointed in their decision to post this story.”