The Walt Disney Company had some rough times after the pandemic hit. On Sunday, it fired CEO Bob Chapek and brought back Bob Iger, who ran Disney for 15 years until 2020.
Iger will have some decisions to make in how to hit the “Reset” button. In 2020, Disney was entangled in a heated dispute with Governor Ron DeSantis \over legislation barring public school discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity through the third grade. Chapek at first tried to steer clear, but a revolt by “woke” employees force him to apologize for not denouncing the bill.
Iger is hardly an improvement when it comes to genuflecting to woke progressive causes. He has said that he finds the DeSantis bill “potentially harmful to kids.”
But he also knows that DeSantis won his reelection by a 20 points landslide and that the governors’ allies won over 200 school board seats in the state in part over the Disney issue. Stockholders expect him to find a way to extricate The Mouse from the Mess it is in.
The big winner from Disney’s apparent commitment to standing down on woke policies is clearly DeSantis.
Manhattan Institute fellow Chris Rufo notes: “After Chapek’s disastrous fight with Gov. Ron DeSantis, Disney+ domestic subscriber growth collapsed, public approval dropped, and the stock price plummeted. Other causes contributed (economy, streaming saturation), but the timing suggests they paid a price for the DeSantis fight.”
Iger has to realize that Disney tarnished its brand and he sounds like the guy who can convince his radical employees that their “woke” politics have become too expensive and the company’s future as a leader in family entertainment requires a more moderate course.