How Bob Iger, DEI, and Wokism Broke Disney’s Trust with America

There is something of a subculture on YouTube of armchair analysts and commentators, WDW Pro, Valliant Renegade, and ClownfishTV, to name just three (beyond traditional financial websites like CNBC and Seeking Alpha), who track every cultural, corporate, programming, and financial move of The Walt Disney Company, previously one of America’s most iconic and trusted companies. Note: I used the past tense in describing The Walt Disney Company. It is no longer one of America’s most trusted brands, and it’s about to lose its iconic status.

How did this happen?

On May 7, 2024, in the wake of its successful battle to keep activist investor Nelson Peltz off its Board of Directors back in April (after which Peltz liquidated his Disney holdings, walking away with more than $1 billion), Disney CEO Bob Iger held Disney’s quarterly earnings call, during which its stock tanked almost 10%, losing $20 billion in its market cap. While it has recovered a bit, to $105 a share, it’s well below its 52-week high, $123.72, and off its all-time highest closing price of $201.91 on March 8, 2021. Those investors who abandoned Peltz in his proxy battle for two seats on the Disney Board of Directors can now lick their financial wounds.

There is speculation in the financial community that if Disney stock again falls below $90 a share, Peltz could mount a third bid for two or more seats on the Disney board or possibly oust Iger. It’s hilarious to watch the New York Times put its spin on the battle, saying Peltz lost his battle with Iger. Actually, Peltz and his Trian Partners investment group walked away with $1 billion. Yes, Peltz lost the battle, but he won the war.

Despite the current dip, many stock analysts are predicting that Disney stock will rebound. That seems unlikely. Here are the reasons why things are likely to get worse, not better, for The Walt Disney Company for the remainder of 2024 and into 2025.

Disney is one of America’s wokest companies. It sees itself as being out in front on cultural and social issues, especially where Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are concerned. This has been a huge issue in America’s—especially American parents’—loss of trust in the House of Mouse. You can’t watch this clip from Disney programming Vice President Latoya Raveneau bragging about how she pushed LGBTQ messages anywhere she could into Disney’s programming without parents seeing that agenda. Because of this agenda, Disney parks, Disney feature films, Disney animation, and especially the Disney Channel have lost trust with many parents.

Disney has lost its decades-long leadership in animation to NBCUniversal’s Dreamworks Animation studio. Its slate of feature films—with their bloated $250,000,000 production budgets requiring a $500,000,000 theatrical run to just break even—has been an unmitigated disaster. Along the way, it has destroyed two of the successful film franchises it acquired during Iger’s first term as CEO: Star Wars and Indiana Jones. And its long-delayed live-action remake of its own 1937 Snow White classic animated film is mired in its own disaster, mostly due to woke comments from its star, Rachel Ziegler. It was moved back a year from a March 2024 release to 2025. But could its theatrical release be scrapped entirely and go directly to the Disney+ streaming service?

Related to its film franchises, which also include Marvel and Pixar (which just laid off 175 employees), was the company’s $250,000,000 misadventure, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, a $6,000 two-night Star Wars-themed hotel experience that opened on March 1, 2022, and closed on September 30, 2023. It was forced to take a charge against earnings for this catastrophe. This disaster was documented in a four-hour viral video by YouTuber Jenny Nicholson that has received an incredible seven million views in a little more than two weeks. (That was 10 times the number of views CNN’s coverage of the debacle received.)

On top of its injection of its left-wing DEI agenda, Disney has more nuts-and-bolts financial issues to contend with. They include:

Theme park attendance is flatlining. What is the measurement matrix? Waiting times at the most popular attractions at its theme parks, Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California, are plummeting. Over the all-important Memorial Day 2024 weekend, waiting times at the most popular attractions at both theme parks were at decade lows (with the exception of during COVID-19). In addition, its newest attraction at Walt Disney World in Florida, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which replaced Splash Mountain, has been panned by the Disney faithful. This review is typical.

Then there’s Disney’s forced acquisition of the share of the Hulu streaming service it didn’t own (it shared ownership with Comcast), which has been an utter disaster for the company. (As of today’s date, the parties have yet to come to a final agreement on the value of Hulu.) Disney was forced to buy out Comcast’s share, and it is struggling to integrate Hulu into its Disney+ streaming service. This forced payout is now funding Comcast so that it can bid for sporting rights for entities like its recently concluded agreement with NASCAR and the upcoming agreement with the NBA. Both are in direct competition with one the last of Disney’s crown jewels, ESPN. The sports network is trying to reinvent itself as content distribution moves from cable to streaming. Last July it laid off dozens of employees, including high-profile names like Suzy Kolber, Jeff Van Gundy, Jalen Rose, and Steve Young, in what was a cost-cutting move.

Disney is no longer American parents’ babysitter. Here’s one parent’s open letter to Disney.

I say all this as a baby boomer who grew up with Disney in the 1950s and 1960s (that will give you an idea of how old I am). Disney’s current values are no longer those of its namesake founder, Walt Disney. Parents, especially those in the center and on the right, that are trying to raise their kids with the traditional values that made America great in the last century, no longer trust the House of Mouse. And until there is housecleaning, starting at the top of the C-suite, Disney will not be trusted again.

Putting ideology ahead of entertainment has decimated an American institution. Walt Disney has been spinning in his grave ever since Bob Iger first became CEO back in 2005 during his first term. It continued during the short reign of Bob Chapek from 2020 to 2021, then accelerated at warp speed after Iger returned to the CEO role in 2022, post-COVID. The Walt Disney Company is broken, and until it gets new leadership at the top and refocuses on its core mission, to entertain, it is headed in only one direction: down. And that’s a shame for baby boomers like me who grew up with Walt Disney when our parents could trust the company to deliver wholesome entertainment not tainted by an agenda or ideology.

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About Richard Truesdell

Contributor Richard Truesdell is an automotive and travel photojournalist. In the last 25 years has visited more than 35 countries on six continents. A former high school history teacher with a BA in Political Science from Waynesburg University, he is a lifelong Conservative moderate who has turned his thoughts and keyboard to political commentary and popular culture.

Photo: HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Robert Iger, Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. There is nothing new in the culture war being waged by the Left and its Flying Monkeys such as Iger. If they don’t know what damage they’re doing to the American family and their brand then they are unfathomably stupid…which I find hard to believe. If, on the other hand, they know exactly what they’re doing to an iconic brand trusted by American families for decades then they are evil and worthy of the punishment Jesus Christ pronounced in Mark 9:42.

  2. One of my relatives worked at Disney decades ago. Even then, Disney was “welcoming” to homosexuals and open displays in the workplace. This is NOT “new”. He eventually left, disillusioned.

    I would also boycott Disney for its disgusting business practices such as replacement of its entire IT Department with H1Bs fairly recently. It decimated many families. I would that Disney went bankrupt. It would be much better for Florida’s economy to transition to productive elements as its reliance (77% of state revenues come from tourism) are highly sensitive to economic downturns. The Boom-Bust cycles repeat ad nauseum whether the current regime is R or D. Until Florida learns to learn a lesson from its narrow focus on Disney, vacation homes and transient culture, it will never serve its citizens properly. Disney is simply the most visible example of Florida’s lack of leadership and failure to plan.

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