Walt Disney Executives to Face Criticism for Bias in its Networks’ News Reporting

Shareholder to Question Corporate Strategy of Intentionally Offending Conservative and Christian Viewers

Distrust in Media Hits All Time Highs: ABC and ESPN Part of the Problem

Phoenix, AZ / Washington, D.C. – Today, at Walt Disney’s annual meeting of shareholders in Phoenix, Arizona, a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research plans to question Disney CEO Robert Iger about his company’s liberal media outlets and the damage they are causing to Disney’s overall brand and bottom line.

“Trust in the media has reached historic lows, and Walt Disney executives deserve significant blame. Under their watch, ABC News and ESPN have turned from a serious news outlet and sports programming station respectively into conservative-bashing organs that seem to cater to the left,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq.

A recent Rasmussen poll found that only six percent of Americans consider the news media very trustworthy, while 42 percent do not trust the media to deliver the truth.

“Negative public sentiment towards the mainstream media is well deserved. Rabid liberal partisans who seek to elect like-minded candidates to political offices and advance progressive causes have replaced objective newsrooms. More than just dishonest, this type of reporting is a losing corporate strategy,” explained Danhof. “A Gallup poll released in February showed that Americans are almost twice as likely to identify as conservative than liberal. By catering to such a small potential market, Disney’s news organizations are limiting their potential revenue. Shareholders and investors should be concerned that the company appears more focused on advancing the progressive agenda over turning a profit.”

The following are just a few examples of Walt Disney affiliates’ extreme liberal bias:

• On July 20, 2012, after a horrible mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado by accused gunman James Holmes, Brian Ross of ABC quickly associated the murders with the conservative Tea Party movement because one of many people in Colorado named James Holmes is a Tea Party member.

• In a column for ESPN.com, progressive scribe Jeff MacGregor used derogatory sexual language to blast a gathering of conservative Americans, calling it the “million-tea-bag protest march on Washington.” He further went on to demonize Republican Congressman Joe Wilson as “a hero to the aforementioned ‘Tea Bag Right.'”

• In March 2012, ESPN refused to air an advertisement by NASCAR driver Blake Koch that encouraged young people to vote because of Koch’s Christian faith, even though the ad did not mention religion.

• In a 2011 ESPN.com column, Rick Reilly excoriated a 16-year old wrestler who defaulted to a female opponent because wrestling her would have violated his Christian beliefs. Seemingly always looking for an avenue to attack Christianity, Reilly wrote: “Does any wrong-headed decision suddenly become right when defended with religious conviction? In this age, don’t we know better? If my God told me to poke the elderly with sharp sticks, would that make it morally acceptable to others?”

• In May 2012, Reilly continued his assault on the Christian faith when he railed against University of Nebraska assistant football coach Ron Brown simply because Brown believes in traditional marriage. Reilly called him “bigoted, hateful, [and] un-Christian” for holding these traditional Christian views.

• In December 2012, then-ESPN commentator Rob Parker disgustingly claimed that Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was a “cornball brother” who is not really black since he has a white fiancée and might be a Republican.

• In June 2012, Disney announced that it would ban ads on any of its networks deemed to promote “junk food.” Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, described this announcement as “Disney’s cynical pro-Obama ploy” to advance First Lady Michelle Obama’s nanny-state agenda.

• In 2011, ESPN removed Hank Williams’ iconic “Are You Ready For Some Football” introduction to the network’s Monday Night Football program merely because Williams made a joke that was critical of President Obama.

• Again defending President Obama from criticism, ESPN publicly chastised golf analyst Paul Azinger for simply tweeting that Obama had played more golf in the previous month than he had.

“Whether it is ABC News reporter Brian Ross rushing to the camera to try to blame the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting on the Tea Party, or former ESPN commentator Rob Parker suggesting that Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is a ‘cornball brother’ who isn’t down with the black ’cause’ because his fiancée is white and Griffin might be a Republican, Disney’s media outlets show unmitigated disdain for conservatives and are unapologetically biased,” said Danhof.

“Disney executives should take this opportunity to reinsert objectivity into their newsrooms,” added Danhof. “The American people yearn for unbiased journalism, and there is great market potential for such programming.”

A copy of Justin Danhof’s question at the shareholder meeting, as prepared for delivery, can be found here.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a Walt Disney shareholder.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

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The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.