Bob Iger’s Bigotry

Justin Danhof General Counsel, National Center for Public Policy Research
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At Disney, black employees are held to a different standard than their coworkers.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Iger recently intervened in a high-profile company personnel matter at Disney-owned ESPN in which he made it clear that Disney expects less from its black employees than other Disney cast members.

On September 11th, ESPN host Jemele Hill went on a Twitter tirade against President Donald Trump.  She called him, among other things, a “white supremacist.”  Ditto for his supporters and advisors.

The White House suggested Hill be fired, and many Americans may have thought it an appropriate reaction.  They don’t know Iger.  He is a far-left coastal elite who has often used his lofty position to press liberal policy issues – even if those positions harm Disney’s long-term shareholders.

Iger admitted to getting personally involved in the Hill fracas.  The CEO of the most powerful company in Hollywood handling HR matters is major news itself, but Iger made it even more sensational by deciding Hill’s comments were fine because she is black and was “outraged.”

Iger specifically said that:

What I felt, what we felt, was that there were a lot of people who were outraged, particularly black people.  They felt that the promise that was given to them — liberty and justice for all — during the Civil War or Civil Rights movement — were theirs.  What they’ve seen in the last couple of months is the opposite.

Iger seems blithely unaware that America is a nation of colorblind laws.  Any prejudice Hill may have endured during her life was not sanctioned by any American government.  In fact, the only existing formal structures legally separating Americans by race are affirmative action rules that provide unequal benefits favoring black Americans in areas such as higher education admissions and some hiring.  Hill may be a beneficiary of both.

Hill is currently enduring prejudice from her elitist liberal boss who apparently expects less of an outraged black woman that he does of Disney’s other employees.  She may feel thankful she still has a job at the waning sports network, but she should also feel unsettled that the only reason she may still has that job is because her boss intervened because she is black.  It may have been Hill’s outrageous actions that brought this bigotry to the surface, but Disney’s views on race are now on full display for all to see.

And while Iger allowed Hill’s rant against President Trump, ESPN did suspend her on October 9th for two weeks after she went after certain NFL corporate sponsors. You see, ESPN has major contracts with the NFL and, while calling the President a white supremacist is fine, upsetting the sponsors is verboten.  But Hill – and other extremist liberals – may already be doing harm to ESPN’s bottom line.

At the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project, we have consistently confronted Iger about the financial and reputational risk of liberal bias at its media outlets such as ESPN.  Following our questions to Iger about this rampant bias during the Disney shareholder meeting in March, ESPN took the unusual step of amending its employee guidelines regarding political discussion.

The guidelines note that:

Writers, reporters, producers and editors directly involved in “hard” news reporting, investigative or enterprise assignments and related coverage should refrain in any public-facing forum from taking positions on political or social issues, candidates or office holders.

As ESPN’s public editor explained:

The three key words here are “public-facing forum.”  That expands this policy beyond ESPN’s borders and brings the Wild West of social media into play.  In fact, later in the memo, it is said directly that the policy applies to “ESPN, Twitter, Facebook and other media.”

But this new policy doesn’t seem to apply when you are black and outraged.  In that case, Disney CEO Bob Iger appears to think you are incapable of following company guidelines.  You get a pass.

Former President George W. Bush once described the phenomenon of liberals expecting less from blacks as the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”At Disney, Bob Iger’s blatant bigotry has even less expectations.  Jemele Hill is proof of that.

Views expressed in op-eds are not the views of The Daily Caller.