Disney CEO Says Political Controversies in Sports Are ‘Complicated’
Bob Iger also explains ESPN's new digital service.
Disney CEO Bob Iger went on CNBC’s Fast Money to talk about ESPN’s new digital service, which will give viewers access to content not seen on TV. With the add-on service, people will be able to watch ESPN content via a mobile app by providing information from their current cable, satellite or streaming services. There will also be access to live sporting events.
While on the show, Iger also addressed Disney’s decision to retain Jemele Hill as an ESPN anchor. Hill called President Donald Trump a “bigot” and a “white supremacist who has surrounded himself with other white supremacists on Twitter. Trump tweeted that ESPN was “paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming)” and demanded an apology.
ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2017
Iger said that ESPN does not particularly want their anchors to talk about politics, and the company is not going to “engage” Trump or the White House on the issue. However, Iger said that Disney and ESPN acknowledged the context in which Hill spoke out, writes CNBC, and did not fire her.
“It’s complicated these days because we have employees that feel the need to speak out — particularly black employees — who are angered by what they see societally, with prejudice racism or rights that they feel were hard-fought…. We have to take that into account,” he said, according to CNBC.
Iger called himself a “patriot” and said he believes in standing for the national anthem because it is a sign of respect, but he said that people also have to respect constitutional rights. He suggested that everyone “put themselves in those people’s shoes and understand what might be going on in those people’s lives,” according to CNBC. Iger said he does not see all this having a long term negative effect on the sport.
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