Ron DeSantis Defends His Fight Against Disney in Campaign Launch: ‘Right to Do What We Did’

Joe Raedle; Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Joe Raedle; Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defended his administration’s fight with the multi-national corporation Disney on the day of his campaign launch for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

When asked if perhaps his administration has taken the fight too far and too long against Disney, DeSantis said he stands by his decision to rescind the company’s special self-governing status and that Disney escalated the fight when they filed suit against his administration. The governor said:

Florida stands for the protection of children. We believe jamming gender ideology in elementary school is wrong. Disney obviously supported injecting gender ideology in elementary school. They did oppose our parents’ rights legislation, and the fact is when they opposed it, that was a big deal, because for 50 years, any time Disney wanted something in Florida politics, they pretty much got it, but not this time.

DeSantis then said that Disney’s corporate culture continued to project a desire to push adult sexuality on children, which pushed his administration to reconsider the special benefits the company received from the state of Florida. 

“I signed the bill. We did, as you say, win on the issue. But what happened was Disney’s posturing, some of the other statements that their executives were making, kind of the corporate culture, had really been outed as trying to inject matters of sex into the programming for the youth,” he said.

“Disney engineered many decades ago where they actually had their own government that they controlled with no accountability. They were exempt from the laws that all their competitors had to follow, massive tax breaks, and they even racked up municipal debt,” he said. “Florida basically put them on a pedestal many decades ago and joined the state with this one company at the hip.”

“We just didn’t feel that we were comfortable maintaining that relationship,” he continued. ” And so we ended their self-governing status. So Disney has to live under the same laws as everybody. They gotta pay the same taxes as everybody and obviously, they’ll be responsible for those debts.”

DeSantis blamed Disney for keeping the “fight” going by filing a lawsuit, which he called a gesture to protect its shareholders. 

I think the company’s ethos have changed in a way that’s alienated lot of people in our legislature and in Florida, and so there was really no justification to keep it. But make no mistake, they’re suing to try to get special privileges,” he said. “People are making money in Florida hand over fist because we have a great business climate. That’s not good enough for them. They want to be treated differently than Universal and Seaworld, and we don’t think that that’s appropriate.”

“I think that they should withdraw the lawsuit, but obviously, we’re going to defend our actions, because we think we have the right to do what we did,” he added. 

DeSantis also accused the media of hypocrisy for criticizing his move, given that they have cast an uncomfortable shadow over Disney’s special relationship with Florida for years. 

“The media was always very hostile to that. But just because I happen to be involved in bringing it back to reality and making sure that they were under the same laws… Well, then all of a sudden they’re running to Disney’s defense. I mean, are you kidding me?” he said. 

DeSantis closed by acknowledging the amount of money that Disney earned under his governorship, such as when he kept the Florida theme parks open during the coronavirus pandemic while Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in California kept them closed. 

“I’d also just finally point out, nobody probably has made Disney more money than me, because they were open during COVID and they were closed in California,” he said.  “And that went on for many, many months, where, literally, I had all the theme parks in Florida opened in 2020. People are going, it’s safe, they’re having fun and the California Parks were closed. I think they were closed for over a year out in California.”

As Breitbart News previously reported, Disney CEO Bob Iger has accused Ron DeSantis of stifling the company’s free speech and further claimed that the company’s special status benefitted the state of Florida. 

“This is not about special privileges or a level playing field or Disney in any way using its leverage around the state of Florida,” he said. “But since there’s been a lot said about special districts and the arrangement that we had, I want to set the record straight on that too.”

“There are about 2000 special districts in Florida, and most were established to foster investment in development,” he continued. “It basically made it easier for us, and others by the way, to do business in Florida. And we built a business that employs, as we’ve said before, over 75,000 people and attracts tens of millions of people to the state. So, while it’s easy to say that the Reedy Creek Special District that was established for us over 50 years ago benefited us, it’s misleading to not also consider how much Disney benefited [from] the state of Florida.”

Disney filed a lawsuit against the DeSantis administration in April, arguing that removing the company’s special status violated its First Amendment rights. The company strongly opposed the administration’s anti-groomer law, wrongly dubbing it the “Don’t Say Gay Law” and slandering millions of Floridians as homophobic bigots for not wanting sexuality discussed with children as young as six.

“This is about one thing and one thing only, and that’s retaliating against us for taking a position about pending legislation,” Iger said. “And we believe that in us taking that position, we’re merely exercising our right to free speech.”

Paul Roland Bois joined Breitbart News in 2021. He also directed the award-winning feature film, EXEMPLUM, which can be viewed on TubiGoogle PlayYouTube Movies, or Vimeo on Demand. Follow him on Twitter @prolandfilms or Instagram @prolandfilms.


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