With last week’s miserable news that the president made the decision to rescind DACA, it begged the question of how many of the program’s 800,000 recipients now facing deportation are working in entertainment and media and how their employers were planning to protect them.
When we contacted the major studios, networks and talent agencies to ascertain answers and get reaction to the news, we were met with either a “We decline comment” or “Call our parent company.” One studio publicist told us it was too dangerous to have an executive go on record about this out of fear of retribution from Trump. Really? Why then was Bob Iger, head of the most powerful entertainment company, willing to release an opposition statement when Disney could potentially have a lot to lose?
Disney, like other studios, declined to divulge how many Dreamers work for the media giant, but Iger didn’t mince words about Trump’s DACA move: “The Dreamers impacted by this cruel and misguided decision make significant contributions to our economy and our country, and I urge Congress to take immediate bipartisan action to pass legislation that will protect these innocent people.”
CBS honcho Leslie Moonves was the only other entertainment mogul to criticize Trump’s end to DACA.
While other Hollywood leaders were largely silent, the captains of industry in Silicon Valley, among them Apple’s Tim Cook and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg, were not afraid to raise their voices. Zuckerberg spearheaded an Aug. 31 letter to Trump, urging the president and Congress to preserve the Obama-era DACA immigrant protection program.
Joining them in signing the letter were Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Netflix’s Reed Hastings, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Snap’s Evan Spiegel, Univision’s Randy Falco, IAC and Expedia chairman Barry Diller, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and president Brad Smith, among others. Cook went further, by disclosing how many Dreamers — 250 — work at Apple. He tweeted that the company would fight for these workers to be “treated as equals.” Microsoft said that 39 of its employees benefit from DACA.
Many high-profile entertainment figures also expressed their outrage via social media, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Shailene Woodley, and Ava DuVernay, who tweeted: “‘Adult illegal aliens.’ Just a disgusting display of prejudice, ignorance and heartlessness. But exactly what’s expected of these cowards.”
So, I just have to ask, how come there are so many cowards in the industry we cover afraid to go on record with what they’re saying in private?