12 Mar 2009 Disney Issues Denial; We Respond
A spokesman for the Walt Disney Company apparently is denying that CEO Robert Iger used an expletive when conservative activist Tom Borelli tried to shake Iger’s hand following Borelli’s presentation at Disney’s annual stockholder’s meeting this week.
Our press release has the details:
Disney Spokesman Denies CEO Used “F-Bomb” to Conservative Activist; Witnesses Recount What They Saw and Heard
For Release: Immediate
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected]
Washington, D.C. – Columnist Tommy Christopher at the AOL News website “Political Machine” reported Wednesday that a spokesman for the Walt Disney Company has denied that Disney CEO Robert Iger said “f— you” to conservative activist Tom Borelli at the company’s March 10 stockholder meeting.Said Christopher:
“According to… the National Center for Public Policy Research, Disney CEO Robert Iger used an F-word other than Fantasia at this year’s annual shareholders meeting. Conservative columnist Tom Borelli, senior fellow with the organization… claimed that Iger said “F**k you” to him at the meeting……Disney spokesman Jonathan Friedland, however, told me that he was ‘sitting right there,’ and that ‘Bob didn’t say anything back to him.’ He also said he was ‘pretty sure Bob shook his hand.’ He described the episode as ‘strange.'”
The following are statements from Tom Borelli, Deneen Borelli (Tom’s wife and fellow of Project 21, who was present), and Steve Milloy (co-director with Tom Borelli of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, which Tom was representing at the stockholder meeting, and also of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project, who was listening to the live audio webcast of the stockholder meeting as it took place):Tom Borelli:
“Here is what transpired.On the way to make my statement I stopped and shook Iger’s hand. He was sitting in front of the podium and because of the extra time it took for me to greet him I was late getting to the podium. In the audio recording, you can hear Mr. Pepper calling my name for a second time and asking if I’m going to be making the presentation. My first few words of my statement I mentioned I was late because I shook Iger’s hand.
After I finished my presentation I again walked by Iger and offered my hand once again. He just stared at me and said ‘F— Y–.’ I immediately walked back to the podium where I told the audience what Iger said to me. Passing Iger the second time, a security official was sitting right behind him and shortly after I walked by them Iger left the auditorium. He was not in the theater during the other shareholder proposals.
Finally, the shareholder that responded to my statement about the controversial nature of ‘The Path to 911’ defended Iger for displaying ‘restraint’ because he felt I launched a personal attack and he added – ‘if it were me I would have probably knocked him on his rear end.’
Perhaps the Disney representative witnessed the first handshake and missed the second encounter.”
“Mr. John Pepper, Chairman of The Walt Disney Company, opened and conducted most of the shareholder meeting. Once he completed several opening remarks, Mr. Pepper introduced Mr. Robert Iger to welcome and address the audience. During this portion of the meeting, Mr. Iger updated shareholders about company business and several sneak previews were aired introducing new Disney movies. At some point during this portion of the meeting, Mr. Iger came down from the stage and took a seat in the audience in front of the podium set up for representatives of the shareholder proposals. Mr. Iger was alone. There were several security personnel seated a few rows behind Mr. Iger.Following the executive session of the Disney shareholder meeting, Mr. Pepper invited Tom to present his proposal. Before taking his place behind the podium, Tom stopped next to a seated Mr. Iger and shook his hand.
At some point while Tom was presenting his proposal, a woman walked past me towards Mr. Iger and took a seat to the right of Mr. Iger – either immediately next to him or with one seat in between them – where they engaged in brief conversation while listening to Tom.
Before Tom completed his presentation, the woman got up and walked away and Mr. Iger was seated alone.
Tom completed his proposal. While returning to his seat, he extended his hand to Mr. Iger. Mr. Iger did not shake Tom’s hand. Then, Tom had a surprised look on his face and immediately went back to the podium and repeated what Mr. Iger told Tom.”
“I was listening to the live audio webcast. Tom completed his presentation. There was a short pause; then I heard Tom’s voice. It sounded like he was near to the microphone, not at the microphone. He said, ‘He just told me to go f— myself,’ or something like that.I find it hard to believe they would deny that; there was a whole room full of people.
If you listen to the Disney version of the tape now, there’s a big gap — like Rosemary Woods. They didn’t even have the brains to remove the gap. If they are going to deny it happened, they had better remove the gap.
The guy after Tom complimented Iger on being so restrained; that he would have punched Tom, I guess.”
The two previous National Center for Public Policy Research press releases on this incident can be found at http://www.nationalcenter.org/PR-Disney_Iger_Censor031109.html and http://www.nationalcenter.org/PR-Disney_Iger_Shareholder031009.html. As of March 11, Mr. Christopher’s column could be found at http://news.aol.com/political-machine/2009/03/11/disney-denies-ceo-cursed-out-right-wing-columnist-at-shareholder/ and a link to the archived audio webcast of the shareholder meeting supplied by the Walt Disney Company can be found at http://corporate.disney.go.com/investors/presentations.html.