Ron DeSantis Says Ex Disney CEO Bob Chapek Felt ‘Pressured’ to Condemn ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

"Gee, how come Disney has never said anything about China, where they make a fortune?" DeSantis wondered about Chapek's newfound woke stance amid public backlash.
Bob Chapek at the "Pinocchio" premiere in December 2022
Bob Chapek at the "Pinocchio" premiere in December 2022
Variety via Getty Images

Florida governor Ron DeSantis is calling out former Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Chapek.

DeSantis penned in upcoming memoir “The Courage to be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for American Revival” that Chapek felt “pressured” to publicly condemn the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida due to the “woke mob” of “leftist media.”

“As the controversy over the Parental Rights in Education bill was coming to a head, Chapek called me. He did not want Disney to get involved, but he was getting a lot of pressure to weigh in against the bill,” DeSantis wrote (via Fox News).

According to DeSantis, Chapek told him, “We get pressured all the time. But this time is different. I haven’t seen anything like this before.”

Chapek later slammed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill when it was signed into law after telling Disney shareholders he urged DeSantis to shut down the bill restricting gender and sexuality discussions in elementary school. Chapek and Disney, however, funded bill supporters.

DeSantis criticized the hypocrisy, writing that he warned Chapek, “People like me will say, ‘Gee, how come Disney has never said anything about China, where they make a fortune?'” DeSantis predicted Disney would face 48 hours of outrage from fans, saying, “When I sign it, you will get another 48 hours of outrage, mostly online. Then there will be some new outrage that the woke mob will focus on and people will forget about this issue, especially considering the outrage is directed at a political-media narrative, not the actual text of the legislation itself.”

DeSantis believed that Disney and Chapek “ultimately caved to leftist media and activist pressure and pressed the false narrative against the bill” and chose to “escalate the battle” by announcing legal action against the bill. DeSantis responded by targeting Disney’s special tax district in Florida.

“Behind the scenes, I was not, as a father of children ages five, four, and two, comfortable with the continuation of Disney’s special arrangement,” DeSantis wrote. “While the Walt Disney Company and its executives had a right to indulge in woke activism, Florida did not have to place the company on a pedestal while they do so — especially when the company’s activism impacted the rights of parents and the well-being of children.”

He continued, “Even though Democrats often rail about the nefarious power exerted over politics by large corporations, and supposedly oppose special carveouts for big companies, they all dutifully lined up in support of keeping Disney’s special self-governing status.”

In November 2022, longtime Disney CEO Bob Iger announced he was replacing Chapek after two years away from the company. Iger is believed to have allegedly criticized Chapek’s steering of the conglomerate. The Florida special tax district is currently being reworked with a new deal between Iger and DeSantis.

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