Walt Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Iger faced tough questioning about alleged liberal bias at Disney-owned ABC News and ESPN during the entertainment company’s annual meeting in Phoenix on Wednesday.
Justin Danhof, a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a free-market think-tank, told Iger that he believed this bias — which he said was apparent in ABC News reporter Brian Ross’ coverage of the July 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colo. — could decrease Disney’s advertising revenue because so many Americans are conservatives. Ross speculated on air that James Holmes could be linked to the tea party; ABC News apologized for the mistake.
In response, Iger conceded that “over time, we have been guilty of making mistakes,” while declining to address specific instances of bias. (Danhof also noted that in December, ESPN columnist Rob Parker made racially charged comments about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, and raised the issue of whether he is a Republican. Parker apologized and was suspended by ESPN.)
“We have at times either presented the news in slightly inaccurate ways through mistakes or in ways that we weren’t necessarily proud of,” Iger said. “But I firmly stand behind the integrity of our news organizations.”
Shares of Disney closed at $56.48 on Tuesday -- an all-time high. The stock closed slightly down on Wednesday at $56.36
Shareholders also voted down two proposals brought forward at the meeting that sought to change how the largest entertainment company in the world is governed.