Analysis

Corporate Media Is Hiding The Real Reason Disney Canceled Its New Florida Investment

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Gage Klipper Contributor
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Disney scrapped its plan to build a new office complex in Florida that would have cost the company nearly $1 billion. While the move is likely part of an overall cost-cutting plan, the corporate media framed the story as a virtuous rebuke of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ policies.

In The New York Times’ coverage, reporter Brooks Barnes lamented the 2,000 jobs that the Lake Nona region of Florida was set to lose due to Disney’s decision. The project would have re-located mostly high-paid Disney employees from the current California office to a new campus 20 miles from Disney World.

However, Barnes spent the bulk of the article framing the move around Disney’s, as well as the Democrats’ preferred narrative. He blamed the move on DeSantis’ “scorched-earth attempt” to reign in Disney’s foray into left-wing gender politics. He discussed a memo, viewed by the Times, that blamed the “changing business conditions” in Florida for forcing Disney to reconsider further investment in the state. (RELATED: Disney’s Reputation Tanks After Polarizing Feud With DeSantis: POLL)

The memo did not mention DeSantis by name, but it didn’t have to. There was no need for Disney CEO (and prominent Biden supporter) Bob Iger to get his hands dirty and spark another public sparring match with DeSantis. Disney executives let the media do the dirty work for them. Two anonymous sources confirmed to the Times that Disney’s “battle with the governor and his allies in the Florida Legislature figured prominently into Disney’s decision to cancel the Lake Nona project.” That is all the corporate press needed to justify sparking the latest anti-DeSantis narrative.

The narrative is compellingly comprehensive – it hits DeSantis from both the right and left.

On the one hand, it provides another rung in the left-wing narrative that DeSantis is vehemently anti-gay. DeSantis’ “battle” with Disney is fostered purely out of hate for LGBTQ people, while one virtuous company had the will and the power to stand up for what’s right. (RELATED: Did Disney Just Troll The Royal Family?)

This pitch is laughably absurd to anyone not already steeped in the corporate media ecosystem, but it would be wrong to think it’s meant to change any minds. Rather, it serves to sow an intense hatred of DeSantis similar to how the left hates Trump. It will ensure that Democratic turnout is just as galvanized against DeSantis as it would be against Trump, if and when DeSantis faces off against Biden in a general election.

On the other hand, it hit DeSantis from the right by branding him “anti-business.” This conforms to the desired narrative of establishment Republicans who think that unfettered markets are the ultimate good of society. The government has no right to tell corporations what to do, even if those corporations are openly partisan and use their market power to enact policies that harm children. This is the conciliatory, business-friendly view that led to Republican defeats in 2008 and 2012, but again, it would be wrong to think the narrative is meant to scare off any in the conservative base.

Rather, it is meant to appeal to establishment party leaders and donors and persuade them not to back DeSantis. The Democrats hope to elevate Trump in the primaries through continued political prosecutions that elevate his support among Republicans, but will “exhaust” Independents so much that they will not vote for him in the general election. Successfully branding DeSantis as “anti-business” will likely cut into the financial and political support DeSantis needs to secure the GOP nomination. (RELATED: Disney Turned Down Meeting With Uyghur Genocide Victims To Talk China Ties, GOP Reps Claim)

Yet these narratives all fall apart when one realizes that Disney likely had a completely unrelated, practical reason for nixing the project. As Barnes buries in the 16th paragraph of his piece, Disney was already in “the midst of cutting $5.5 billion in costs as it seeks to improve profitability, pay down debt and restore its dividend.” Iger, who came out of retirement to rescue a faltering Disney struggling to recover from streaming losses and the toll Covid took on its parks and resorts, had already committed to reversing many of his predecessors initiatives.

Why would Disney re-locate staff from a perfectly fine California office (many of whom did not wish to go, according to the Times) to a new $1 billion campus if it needed to cut costs? The move is far more likely to be a prudent business decision than any principled political stance.

The Times’ coverage here shows the extraordinary coordination required between corporations, media executives, and Democratic party officials to make implausible narratives stick. While representatives of each faction don’t likely discuss their plans in a smoke-filled room, all of the incentive structures push them naturally together. They are all on the same team because they want the same thing — not only four more years under Biden, but the power, status, and wealth they can accrue under the status quo.