Disney CEO Bob Iger easily ranks among America’s most despicable CEOs. Iger refused to quietly sail into the sunset when he supposedly “retired” in 2021 and orchestrated his comeback last year by backstabbing his handpicked successor Bob Chapek and feigning his profound commitment to Disney by availing the company of his services, of course for $27 million in potential compensation. This Wall Street Journal story detailing Iger’s comeback machinations was among the most distasteful management articles I’ve ever read.

Like many CEOs of U.S. companies, Iger is deft throwing employees under the bus to cover his derriere. He recently blamed the disastrous performance of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest film on lack of management oversight because of the pandemic. Conservative critics blame the failure of Marvel and other Disney films on the company’s wokeness and its decision to feature gays, lesbians, and transgender persons as the heroes of action films aimed at children.

That direction was set by Iger. Many people, particularly those working in the mainstream media, celebrate Iger for what they say was courageous leadership. Fair enough, but Disney’s progressiveness hasn’t served the company well at the box office. It is estimated that Disney has lost some $1 billion on its most recent films because the public wasn’t interested in viewing them.

Iger is adept at playing the mainstream and Hollywood trade media. He appreciates that Elon Musk has fallen out of favor, allegedly because the tech entrepreneur transformed Twitter from a civil platform where content moderators rigorously monitored and removed purveyors of “misininformation” into a site riddled with right wing hate speech and antisemitism.

Disney has piously stopped advertising on Twitter, claiming the public town square isn’t appropriate for its brand. Iger said the final straw was Musk agreeing with a post that The Anti-Defamation League and others deemed antisemitic.

“By (Musk) 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,” Iger said at the Dealbook Summit sponsored by the New York Times.

Musk could have made a compelling argument calling out Iger’s hypocrisy, but he didn’t. Instead, he engaged in vulgarity, saying that any marketer that avoided X because of its perceived antisemitic content should “go f*** yourself.” He said it twice for emphasis.

Musk followed up with meme showing a dejected-looking robot. “Here I am, the richest man in the world, philosemite, climate crusader, and I still get s–t from idiots.” There is no such word as philosemite, but Deadline, the Hollywood trade publication, says the word “has been credibly defined as a person who has respect and admiration for the Jewish people and Jewish history.”

Musk declaring himself an admirer of Jewish people doesn’t mean he isn’t antisemitic, and I’m not among those arguing that he is. As I noted in a previous commentary, I also haven’t embraced the media narrative that X under Musk’s ownership has become more of a hotbed of antisemitic content than it was under Twitter’s previous ownership.

An ADL analysis of Twitter in the days following the outbreak of conflict two years ago between Israel and Gaza found more than 17,000 tweets using variations of the phrase, “Hitler was right” between May 7 and May 14, 2021. Many of those tweets expressed blatant antisemitism and the belief that the fighting between Israel and Hamas revealed the evil nature of Jews everywhere.

Musk tweeted the results of a study showing that antisemitism is considerably more rampant on TikTok and Instagram, but unfortunately, I can’t find details of that study.

More importantly, Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, named after the famed Nazi hunter, recently refrained from calling Musk antisemitic. The SWC is a more credible judge of antisemitism than the ADL, whose leader is a former senior Obama aide, and the legacy media, which turns a blind eye to more virulent antisemitic comments and posts by Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilan Omar.

What disturbs me most about Musk was his recent PR trip to Israel hoping to burnish his philoemite bona fides. I was sickened seeing a photo of Musk wearing a bulletproof vest being given a tour of the Hamas massacres by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who bears some responsibility for the terrorist murders. While Musk possibly isn’t antisemitic, he’s shown no affinity or support for Israel, and he isn’t a head of state or political leader. He wasn’t deserving of a guided tour of one of the biggest atrocities since Nazi Germany.

Moreover, Netanyahu and Musk recently met in San Francisco, and Musk’s allegedly antisemitic comment came in wake of that visit. Netanyahu clearly didn’t have any moral sway over Musk, which is hardly surprising given that he’s an ethically challenged individual facing multiple corruption charges.

A family of one of the hostages reportedly gave Musk a necklace bearing the inscription “bring them home,” which he’s vowed to wear until every hostage is freed. I understand and respect the family’s hope that it might make a difference, but I’m skeptical of Musk’s concern. If Musk wants to make a real difference, let him post on X images of every hostage being held repeatedly throughout the day. That might make a difference but undoubtedly would alienate much of his core following.

Musk is blessed with undeniable technological brilliance, but Twitter is proving to be his undoing. The site is a dangerous platform for those who prefer to spew knee jerk comments and insights without thought or reflection, which Musk does with abandon.

I question whether X is as influential as the legacy media makes it out to be. Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University, argues in his book Deep Work that social media serves only as a distraction and meaningful success comes only from intense and sustained focus. Newport isn’t on X but he’s published multiple best-selling books.

What turned me off to Twitter from the get-go was the pervasive vulgarity, and it was rampant long before Musk acquired the site. Here’s a representative tweet from Sarah Silverman, who is typically characterized as a comedian, but I’ve never found her particularly funny.

It’s a wonder how any company that cared about its image advertised on Twitter in the first place. Studies show that continued exposure to social media can lead to depression and other mental health issues, so it’s questionable whether having a corporate brand inserted in the X maelstrom is ultimately beneficial. Disneyland is supposedly the happiest place on earth, so the logic of displaying its brand in a social media sewer escapes me. Notably, Silverman voiced various characters in Disney films.

It’s admirable if Musk is so true to his beliefs and morals that he’s willing to tell advertisers to go f*** themselves if they don’t like how his X platform is perceived. I’d more admire advertisers who respond in kind and say, “Elon, back at you.”

Bob Iger’s stated reasons for pulling Disney ads off Twitter is suspect, but nevertheless the result is worthy of applause. Walmart made a similar decision, although reportedly not because of antisemitic concerns. Let’s hope it’s the beginning of a widespread trend.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.