Disney Shareholders Call for Objective Reporting at ABC News

ABC Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, right, and ABC News Live Anchor Linsey Davis, left, address members of the audience Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, before the start of a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC News, Apple News, and WMUR-TV at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Bob Chapek, the brand-new CEO of entertainment giant Disney, was confronted over the documented anti-conservative bias at ABC News but refused to address the facts at this month’s annual shareholders meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina.

National Center General Counsel and Free Enterprise Project (FEP) Director Justin Danhof pointed out to Chapek that a Media Research Center’s study of coverage of President Trump from the major networks was negative 93 percent of the time.

Chapek, who only weeks ago succeeded former CEO Bob Iger, was also asked about a recent undercover video by Project Veritas outing ABC News reporter David Wright as a self-professed socialist.

“A few weeks ago, Project Veritas exposed a video in which ABC News correspondent David Wright admitted that the network bosses regularly spike positive stories about President Trump,” Danhof continued according to a FEP press release. “He stated, [w]e also don’t give [Trump] credit for what things he does do…. I feel terrible about it, I feel that the truth suffers, the voters are poorly informed…. Our bosses don’t see an upside in doing the job we’re supposed to do.”

“Wright isn’t a green journalist and he is no conservative nor a Trump fan. He has degrees from Oxford and Harvard and identifies as a socialist,” Danhof said.

Chapek, though, wasn’t biting. Indeed, he ignored the cited statistics and claimed that ABC is a paragon of objectivity.

“So, interestingly enough, the first trip I took after I got the new job was to ABC News in New York. And I must say I was overwhelmed by their professionalism and their commitment to objectivity,” Chapek replied ignoring the MRC study cited.

Chapek then addressed the Wright issue.

“In terms of Mr. Wright, he said some things that made us question his objectivity. And, obviously, when you’re reporting the news, that’s no place for somebody who’s got a heavy, subjective opinion. So – internally – we dealt with that situation,” he said.

“But I think ABC News has a stellar track record of being objective in reporting the news and it’ll continue in the future,” the Disney chief added.

Danhof was unimpressed by the new Disney CEO’s replies.

“If Chapek’s first stop as Disney CEO was truly to the ABC News headquarters in New York City, and he saw no indicia of anti-conservative bias, then Disney investors should run for the hills,” Danhof said. “Chapek clearly cannot identify an issue that is staring him right in the face. As the videos from Project Veritas clearly show, ABC has a regular pattern of killing stories that would put President Trump and conservatives in a positive light. ABC News is out to manipulate the populace, not to deliver straight news. If Chapek can’t see that, what other glaring problems will he miss as the head of Disney?”

“And Chapek largely missed the point that ABC News correspondent David Wright was making in the Project Veritas video. He made it clear that the liberal isolation in New York City is the reason that ABC doesn’t understand President Trump or his supporters,” Danhof continued. “Those at ABC News need to get outside of their liberal echo chambers every once in a while. It’s not clear that will ever happen with Chapek in charge.”

But Danhoff also noted that the applause of those in the room was “heartening.”

“After I asked my question, I was heartened by the applause in the room,” Danhof said of the meeting. “Americans of all political stripes care about objective news reporting. And it is clear that our broadcast networks have strayed far from that standard. The support for my question should signal to Disney’s bosses that they are wasting a prime business opportunity by only catering to a small subset of liberal viewers rather than all Americans.”

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project has focused on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business since 2007, according to the group’s website. And the National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

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