Disney CEO Confronted Over Liberal Bias at ABC, ESPN by Shareholder

March 8th, 2013 5:05 PM

Liberal bias in journalism is not just bad for the profession as an abstract concept, it's bad for the bottom line of media companies and their shareholders. That was the argument of one Justin Danhof of the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) when he attended a Disney shareholders meeting and confronted the entertainment company's CEO Bob Iger about liberal bias at the news division of ABC. "Liberal bias pervades Disney's media outlets" and "it's time to stop denying this bias and start doing something about it," Danhof argued, having cited former ESPN analyst Rob Parker's "cornball brother" crack about black quarterback and alleged Republican Robert Griffin III and ABC News's Brian Ross's infamous episode in which he hinted that Auroroa, Colorado theater shooter James Holmes might be a Tea Party member.

Danhof argued that Disney executives need to take seriously NCPPR's concerns and the concerns of other conservatives who happen to own Disney stock. Danhof appealed not so much to Iger's sense of journalistic integrity but rather the bottom line: Putting out a fairer, more balanced news product may help ABC attract more conservative viewers, and with them, higher ratings and more customers buying products from ABC News program sponsors, leading of course to higher profit margins for Disney. [h/t Huffington Post; Danhof's statement embedded below the page break]

For his part, however, Iger was in full-on ostrich mode with his head in the sand about systemic liberal bias within the company. Iger insisted that ABC News and ESPn were. "overall...  fair and unbiased and accurate."

"I firmly stand behind the integrity of our news organizations," Iger insisted, although he offered that "at times" the network has "either presented the news in slightly inaccurate ways through mistakes or in ways that we weren't necessarily proud of."