Disney CEO Bob Iger Defends Participation on Donald Trump Panel

Bob Iger Disney
Mark J. Terrill/AP/REX/Shutterstock

UPDATED: Disney CEO Bob Iger defended his presence on President Donald Trump’s financial advisory panel during the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday, saying he believed there would be many occasions when he would bring “adversarial” positions to the group that advises the new administration.

Iger made his comments when he was pressed by several speakers at the meeting in Denver to drop off the Trump panel of financial leaders.

“I think there is an opportunity for me to express views that I think … are of value to the company and its shareholders,” Iger said. He added that he expected to take positions “adversarial to the view of the administration” on a number of issues, including immigration, adding “it’s not an endorsement of the new administration.”

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Speakers at the meeting in Denver said they were presenting petitions with more than 500,000 signatures, calling for Iger to step down from the panel. A few of the speakers said that Disney would suffer economic repercussions from customers who would boycott the company’s films, theme parks, and other business, as a result of his work on the Trump panel.

Iger, who missed the first meeting of the Trump panel while he was attending a Disney board meeting, said he thought the most powerful messages his company could send were through the films and television programs it presented to the world. He pointed to last year’s animated film “Zootopia” as promoting the idea of inclusiveness. He said that other Disney productions — like the ABC sitcom “Blackish” and the “Star Wars” film “Rogue One” — also made a case for the value of diversity.

“That’s where we think we can make the biggest impact on the planet,” Iger said. The Disney CEO said the values expressed in such movies extend to his personal representation of the company, including at forums like the one Trump has convened with business leaders. “I can assure you the values I speak of are expressed whenever I get the chance,” he insisted.

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The Disney boss seemed to signal that another issue on which he might disagree with Trump was climate change, which the new president once called a “hoax.” Iger said in the talk with shareholders,”We think the changes we are already seeing in the climate today are real, and in many ways they are a result of man’s impact on the world. … These issues are very real and things we need to take very seriously.”

More than one speaker told Iger they thought that his mere presence on the Trump panel would appear to some as an endorsement of the president’s policies, which were described as racist and anti-immigrant — including his limitations on travel from six Muslim-majority nations. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to dropped off the Trump panel last month following a threatened boycott.

But one speaker agreed with Iger that he could do more good by remaining on Trump’s panel. “I think being a voice in the room is important,” said a man who identified himself as Dwight Morgan. “I want to thank you for being our voice in the room with the president.”

Iger took a blast from the political right as well. Justin Danhof of the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research said Disney networks ABC and ESPN had been proven to “cater to liberal cultural elites” and asked when the practice would stop.

Iger, who spent years at ABC before moving to the corporate parent, rejected that accusation, saying that all of the press provided a “vital check and balance” on those in power and that ABC News, in particular, had worked “very, very hard to present the news in a fair way.”

WATCH: J.J. Abrams and Bob Iger on the Making of ‘Star Wars’ – Exclusive Interview

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  1. poor guy can’t sleep, he’s having nightmares of Rosi the cow and hissy fit Chelsea what’s her face stomping his junk.:)

  2. Dellie Q. says:

    I’m a big Iger fan but “I think there is an opportunity for me to express views that I think … are of value to the company and its shareholders,” sounds very corrupt.

  3. ChrisO'Brien says:

    Maybe he is worried about the backlash for bowing out. Trump’s uneducated and overweight voters are a natural for Disneyworld.

  4. Paully says:

    Did this story go to Newsmax or Drudge.. a lot of nutty comments.. Ha ha..

  5. Paully says:

    I’m hoping that Iger and Musk quit and make a big stink when the Trumpster finally crosses the line..
    By Summer I think..

  6. Dollface says:

    Interesting how LIBERALS want to stay on an island all by themselves and EXCLUDE everyone else. And the thousands of penniless, violent, vulgar, thug pawn activists that they call upon to come out and bark like dogs at the opposition on demand — not a classy political party to be a part of. BULLY mouthpieces at the top and BULLY thugs at the bottom. YOU ARE ALL INTOLLERANT and would rather isolate yourself than work with half the nation. I do not think these liberal activists even understand that what they are promoting is their own demise into slave wage labor as a pawn of their own party elites! Disney has had some horrendous employee practices where they laid off thousands of high skilled US tech employees and flew in extremely low paid temp visa workers and forced the US workers to train their replacements. Kind of gross how Disney loves it cheap labor. Liberals claim this is the time of jobs for tech innovation and tech jobs (anti-green manufacturing is out, yet manufacturing Disney merchandise for all the Disney stores from poor countries for cheap labor is OK) for immigration for the cheapest labor they can get. The cherry on top is when liberal tech companies claim there simply is not enough tech labor coming out of schools in the US (lies) so they need to fly in cheap tech labor from poor nations.

  7. The Real Bottom Line says:

    Iger is looking out for Iger. Perhaps testing the water before he takes a swim. And he’s definitely looking for government subsidies to be paid for by taxpayers which will fund Disney’s various businesses. He can pass it off as “creating jobs.” For example – taxpayers pay for freeway off ramps to service the Disney Parks in Florida and California. Remember, Disney has a government division dedicated to finding ways to suck down money at the public trough. Iger is all about money, not principals and ideals, but thanks for all the right wing rhetoric in the comments. Right Wing and Left Wing don’t get it. Iger is looking out for Iger.

  8. Charles Tudor says:

    Lead, follow or get out of the way….Looks like the Left is getting out of the way with talk like this. Go ahead folks….Make Donald’s day…..Your call. You can run and you can hide….and even leave the country…….and for some, not even vote…..BUT….Don’t complain then about what happens……..or stand up for free speech and exchange of ideas if you can’t allow it to even yourselves……

  9. SPIKE says:

    INTOLERANT LIBERAL NEO-FACSISTS CAN’T STAND DIFFERING VIEWPOINTS. THEY’RE FOOLS. FREEDOM TO ESPOUSE DIFFERING VIEWPOINTS IS PART OF WHAT MADE THIS COUNTRY GREAT. FURTHER, THEIR ATTEMPTS TO INTIMIDATE IGER INTO STEPPING DOWN FROM THE ADVISORY PANEL FLIES IN THE FACE OF THEIR OWN MEME ABOUT DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIVENESS. THEY’RE HYPOCRITES.

    • The Truth says:

      As usual, your blowhard, all-caps commentary demonstrates that you’re the one who is intolerant to differing viewpoints, Spike. You are the epitome of hypocrisy. Disney shareholders have every right to freely express themselves regarding Iger’s representation of the company and how they feel it may affect their investments.

      You should also bone up on neo-fascism, which espouses ultranationalism, populism, authoritarianism, and anti-immigration policies, while opposing liberal democracy. You’re so off base you’re out of the ballpark. Clearly the neo-fascists are in the White House.

  10. Nanny Mo says:

    He doesn’t need to defeat himself. We need someone from our industry there to speak with him. Trump is the president now, if we cut off all dialogue with him, we will have no way of “making a deal” with him. Only an idiot, burns down the bridge you need to get the food coming to your table. But, as we all know, Hollywood is filled with idiots. Jodie Foster would burn down the bridge and then wonder why she is starving to death. You can’t help some kinds of stupid. Isaacson comes to mind.

  11. skep41 says:

    Blasphemy! The Progressive doxology demands that Good People do nothing but deplore The Deplorables! Any collaboration with Donaldism is a roadblock on the path to Progressive paradise; to the Cuban-style equality we all (except for Deplorables who will be dealt with in due time) we all yearn for.

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