Bozell Column: Disney's Cynical Pro-Obama Ploy

On the heels of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest stupid regulations commanding a shrinkage in the size of sugary drinks in restaurants, movie theaters, and stadiums, the Walt Disney Company has announced it will ban ads for products on its broadcast and online platforms that it has scientifically determined are “junk food” that do not meet the company’s nutrition standards.

Curiously, Disney announced that it would begin this new effort immediately – wait, no, at some time in 2015. So why announce this now? It would seem so Disney could be praised and honored by First Lady Michelle Obama – or the other way around. It just smells. It carries a distinct aroma of Campaign 2012.

Imagine that: Mrs. Obama praised Disney to the skies, because “As parents, we know that whatever is on TV is what our kids are going to want.  I remember, as [Disney boss] Bob [Iger]  has discussed, going to the grocery store with the kids, and the minute you walk down the aisle the kids are singing some jingle, or they're pulling on your leg begging you, pleading you for whatever they saw on TV.”

The First Lady painted a picture that every parent is “preparing those nutritious meals and snacks, and we're doing our best to teach our kids healthy habits.  But when the kids turn on the TV to watch their favorite shows -- all that hard work is undermined whenever there is a commercial break.”

Disney isn't the Nanny State and has every right to proceed with its own standards, even if such supposedly critically necessary new standards, which could be implemented next week,  won't be imposed for another three years.  But to what degree will Disney's politically-correct new standards hurt existing businesses that aren't at fault?

It is undoubtedly true that most American parents believe Twinkies, super-size French fries and the like would qualify as “junk food.” But the stated ban would also kill commercials for products just don't fall in this category -- Oscar Mayer Lunchables, and Capri Sun juice boxes, and the like.

Disney, on the other hand, will suffer little financial pain. Kantar Media estimates this will affect less than one percent of Disney's total annual advertising sales, which came in at $7.6 billion last year.

The Hollywood Reporter suggests that by 2015, the marketing shift will already be complete any way.  "The days of whimsical commercials on Saturday morning cartoons where Cap'n Crunch fights pirates are coming to an end," said Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research. "Now he'll be seen checking his weight and playing baseball... Disney is just catching up to reality."

There's something that is so annoying here. I mean, really. Do we really, really care? Should we throw up our hands, and scream "Hallelujah!" because we can now mark the beginning of the end of CCD (Cap'n Crunch Disease)? Have we found the cure  MFLS (Mad Froot Loops Syndrome)?

ABC and Mrs. Obama (and the journalists following them) aren’t asking a natural follow-up: If the First Lady is correct that cereal and chewing-gum commercials are so powerful that “whatever is on TV is what our kids are going to want,” what about the TV that’s on in between the commercials? In other words, would someone ask Mrs. Obama how she thinks her daughters would enjoy ABC’s sitcom “Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23"?  Is that healthy for young minds? How about the pro-homosexual lifestyle pushed by her husband's financial supporters from “Glee”?

The official Obama publicity line is their daughters are completely denied television during the school week, and there's been negative feedback. ABC News recently suggested online that Obama could be “the first Amish president.” For the record, I think it's wonderful. But why take money from an entertainment industry whose product is so injurious to children you won't let your own children near it?

It would have been fun to see a reporter ask Mrs. Obama if she supports Robert Iger’s so-called ABC Family Channel airing a show called “Pretty Little Liars” that teaches young girls about teenage sex, alcoholism, smoking, and lesbianism.

ABC Family was thrilled to announce the “Liars” season debut won its time slot in females 12 to 34 and female teens, and generated more than 534,000 tweets on Twitter. Does anyone think this show is “healthy” for children?  Don't you wish Mrs. Obama and Disney would say something about this rather than crusading against the alleged horror of a thirty-second cartoon starring Cap’n Crunch?

Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell is the Founder and President of the Media Research Center