It’s been a year now since news of the Schism was made public. At the risk of confusing my musical references, it seems like thirty.
I didn’t want to let the occasion pass without comment, but I also wasn’t sure what I wanted to say about it.
Let me set the stage:
Apparently, Eric Trump tweeted that it is inappropriate for ABC News White House Correspondent (and my fellow South Dakotan) Jonathan Karl to criticize Donald Trump’s use of the name “Pocahontas” as a derogatory term because ABC’s parent company, Disney, once made a movie about the historical Pocahontas.
Sonny-boy, leave the Disney-bashing to the experts:
“The [ABC] news division as a whole was reliably profitable [in the ’90s when Disney bought the ABC network]. But it [the news division] often balked at the idea of promoting other Disney ventures, persisted in making unflattering references to Disney (an investigative piece on sweatshops that mentioned Disney products especially infuriated Eisner), and, in general, was sanctimonious, in Eisner’s view. Its ability to appeal directly to the public by invoking its mission of public service journalism–a higher, nobler purpose than making money–also meant that it was difficult, if not impossible, for Eisner to control the New York-based news division from Burbank.” (James B. Stewart, DisneyWar, page 410)
After acquiring the ABC network in the mid 1990s, Michael Eisner and Bob Iger tried to make a deal with David Letterman to bring his late-night talk show to ABC, planning to give him the timeslot otherwise occupied by Ted Koppel and Nightline. When that deal fell through, “Iger [negotiated] a more radical approach to the news division: spinning it off into a new company that would merge ABC news with CNN […] ridding Eisner of an increasingly unwanted stepchild from the ABC acquisition.” (page 412)
When I heard that Disney’s rationale for dismissing Steve Whitmire from the Muppet Studios was “unacceptable business conduct,” I laughed–loudly and derisively, without mirth.
Paging Mr. Kettle: Phone call from the Walt Disney Company regarding your color!
Disney’s shady business dealings are the stuff of legend. They could fill several books–and have. What follows is not intended to be a comprehensive account of Disney’s propensity for screwing people over. We’ve got a loooong journey ahead of us; this is just the first step.
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