Bob Iger Addresses Disney Leaving X for 10 Days Following Elon Musk Controversy

Shannen Ace

Updated on:

Bob Iger Addresses Disney Leaving X for 10 Days Following Elon Musk Controversy

During a Q&A at the New York Times’ DealBook Summit, Disney CEO Bob Iger addressed the company pulling advertisements and leaving X (formerly Twitter).

Bob Iger on Disney, X, and Elon Musk

“I have a lot of respect for Elon and what he’s accomplished,” Iger said on Wednesday. “Not just you know, one business, but a few businesses. And we know Elon is larger than life in many respects, and that his name is very much tied to the companies he either founded or he owns, whether it’s Tesla or SpaceX, or now X. And by him taking the position that he took in quite a public manner,  we just felt that the association with that position and Elon Musk and X was not necessarily a positive one for us. And we decided we would pull our advertising.”

Elon Musk

Disney and other notable companies like Apple and Paramount ceased marketing on X in response to an antisemitic controversy surrounding the platform and its owner. A Media Matters for America study found that X had been “placing ads for companies such as ‘Apple, Bravo (NBCUniversal), IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity (Comcast) next to content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.” (via The Hollywood Reporter) Media Matters for America describes itself as a not-for-profit “dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media” on its official website.

The timing of that report roughly coincided with a controversy surrounding Musk, who, according to CNN, “publicly endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory popular among White supremacists” on his personal X account on November 15. Several “Jewish leaders, activists, and academics representing both major political parties” condemned Musk’s remarks, per CNBC, calling on companies like Disney to halt ad spending.

Starting on Friday, November 17, multiple X accounts associated with The Walt Disney Company paused all posting. Disney began posting again on Tuesday, November 28.

Bob Iger and mickey mouse
Image Source: Entertainment Weekly

Iger added that it is “perfectly reasonable” for CEOs to weigh in on geopolitical events and that in some ways, as public leaders, it is something they are paid to do.

Iger was among those associated with Disney who condemned Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill (a.k.a. the “Don’t Say Gay” bill) during his brief retirement last year, writing that it “will put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy.” At the time, Disney CEO Bob Chapek had failed to comment on the bill. Chapek later denounced it, which led to Governor DeSantis taking over the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

Despite DeSantis’ retaliatory actions, Iger has not shied away from continuing to address politics. When asked about the same law and LGBTQIA+ inclusion soon after his return as CEO said, “Well, when you’re in a job like mine where you are responsible for the storytelling that many of you are […] responsible for you, get paid to have a sense [of] what is right.  Not everyone will agree with you, that’s just not the way the world is these days, but it doesn’t mean you should stop trying to do the right thing.”

Iger said on Wednesday that Disney entities can still use X to communicate, but that’s all. When asked how long the pause in marketing would continue, he said, “I haven’t really addressed it since the decision was made to find a good advertising platform.”

Since returning to X, Disney has mostly posted announcements (like the World Celebration opening date) rather than traditional advertisements like trailers.

More From Iger

Bob Iger Masterclass 3 1200x669 1

During his appearance, Iger also addressed activist investor Nelson Peltz, who is trying to get a seat on Disney’s board of supervisors.

“The board has an obligation to listen to investors. I am certain that the board will hear them out as to what their plans are,” Iger said. He told the board that “we have to obviously contend with them in some form, but don’t force me to take my eye off the ball [in managing the company].”

“It’s not like we have a number of empty [board] seats,” he added.

When asked about a 1966 letter from Walt Disney that complained about the push to create sequels, Iger responded, “I don’t want to apologize for making sequels.” He did say “there has to be an artistic reason” and, “We have made too many… but we will only greenlight a sequel if we think the story that the creators want to tell is worth telling.”

Sources: Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter

For the latest Disney Parks news and info, follow WDW News Today on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.