A friend who worked as a consultant to major corporations for many years took issue with with my recent commentary noting the hypocrisy of Disney and other Hollywood studios. These companies talk a good game about their commitment to gay rights in America, but voluntarily comply with China’s film censors, who are under orders to curb portrayals of “effeminate” men and “sissies.” Warner Bros. recently deleted six seconds of dialogue from the latest Harry Potter film because China’s censors didn’t like the gay references.
“You sound naïve,” my friend said. “Companies are in business to make money. It’s perfectly acceptable that Disney will promote gay rights in America if the company thinks it’s good for business and understandable that they would take a different stance in China to maximize their profits in that country.”
I’ve also worked with many corporations and I’m well aware that companies are in business to make money. I have no issue with that. My issue is when companies disingenuously fashion themselves as embracing “stakeholder capitalism,” a Davos manifesto that calls on corporations to consider the public good in all their affairs. I applaud this goal as well, but not when the commitment falls by the wayside when profits are at risk.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek thought he was coming out on the side of angels when he attacked Florida governor Ron DeSantis for the state’s “Parental Rights in Education Act.” Critics say the legislation is homophobic and refer to it as the ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill,’ while the bill’s defenders say the legislation is intended to prevent “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in kindergarten through 3rd grade.
I thought my friend was naïve in believing that Chapek attacking a popular governor and legislation most Floridians and Americans support was good for business. I imagine Chapek has come around to my way of thinking.
Florida’s Legislature voted this week to abolish a perk that allowed Disney World essentially function as a private government. The perk reportedly saves Disney tens of millions of dollars a year. While it’s quite possible a solution can still be worked out, Disney’s reputation has taken a beating with a huge swath of America. There’s already talk about bringing back former CEO Bob Iger.
Netflix Losing Subscribers
Netflix is another company that’s paying a price for its wokester ways. I’m not buying that the company’s expected loss of more than 2 million subscribers relates entirely to subscribers sharing passwords. The company’s production deal with the Obamas made it a lightning rod with conservatives, as did its appointment of former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to its board. The media furor employees caused demanding the removal of a Dave Chappelle special they didn’t like reinforced Netflix’s wokester image, although to management’s credit, they didn’t cave and refused to remove it.
Nevertheless, Netflix now has to deal with Elon Musk, who declared that Netflix is losing subscribers because “the woke mind virus” is making the network “unwatchable.” Musk is much like Donald Trump in that millions of Americans readily embrace his musings, regardless of his hypocrisy. Musk’s claim that he’s a “free speech absolutist” has gone unchallenged, despite his close relationship with Communist China and a report that Tesla asked the company’s Chinese handlers to censor critics of the company on social media.
On Tesla’s earnings call on Wednesday, Musk said that Tesla might get into the business of mining and refining lithium, which is widely regarded as an environmental hazard. This from a CEO whose company earned $679 million in the most recent quarter selling regulatory carbon credits to other automakers to comply with emission-related rules.
Less CNN is Better
CNN, a network employing alleged pedophiles, sexual harassers, a leader having an affair with a subordinate, and ranked No. 1 for promoting fake news, today cancelled its streaming service less than a month after its pricey debut. People weren’t all that interested in hearing more from CNN, its introductory bargain basement $2.99 fee for life notwithstanding.
Former FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly asked on a recent podcast, “Who is the moron at CNN who actually thought, ‘You know what we need with our ratings in the toilet? More of us. We need more CNN.’”
As I noted on my LinkedIn page, the moron was likely the same person who hired McKinsey to advise the network. According to an Axios report, the management consulting firm played a role in the launch.
One can understand McKinsey’s appeal to CNN’s top brass. A Congressional report released last week revealed that more than 22 McKinsey employees who were consulting for disgraced opioid seller Purdue Pharma and other opioid producers were also doing work for government agencies tasked with regulating opioid abuse. Congressional investigators called it a “serious conflict of interest.”
The Intercept’s Donor Losses
Glenn Greenwald, a co-founder of The Intercept on Wednesday posted a notice from his former publication noting that in the past 18 months the publication has lost more than 4,000 paying donors. “Did anything happen exactly 18 months ago over there that might have caused this sad decline?” he asked rhetorically.
The Intercept is a publication Greenwald help found with the purpose of giving journalists editorial freedom. In October 2020 he resigned after clashing with editor Betsy Reed about wanting to write a story critical of the media’s dismissal of a New York Post bombshell report about Joe Biden’s son Hunter one week before the 2020 election. According to this account by Matt Taibbi, Reed responded that “even if (the Post story) did represent something untoward about Biden,” that would “represent a tiny fraction of the sleaze and lies Trump and his cronies are oozing in every day.”
The New York Times and other publications recently acknowledged the outlines of the Post story were essentially true. Surprisingly Reed remains the Intercept’s editor, despite a decision that considerably diminished the publication’s credibility and possibly its financial stability.
In explaining the decline of U.S. media, the Columbia Journalism Review recently noted that “unpopular and uninspiring bosses abound.”
Seems like Reed fits the bill.
Don’t Mess with Dr. Bowden
Finally, there’s Dr. Mary Talley Bowden, an intrepid ENT doc in Houston I profiled in February. Bowden last year resigned from Houston Methodist after the hospital publicly maligned her for continuing to treat patients with a controversial drug that she and other credible doctors say is effective treating covid, particularly in the disease’s early stages.
Regardless of what one thinks of the drug or its effectiveness, Houston Methodist is a powerful corporate presence in Houston with about $8 billion in cash sitting around. Houston Methodist maligned Bowden publicly, leaking to the Houston Chronicle that she was under investigation before she received a notification. A major institution seeking to publicly crush a young Stanford-educated physician starting out in her own practice for acting on her medical judgment and convictions is hardly a fair fight.
Bowden this week sent a letter to Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Mark Boom demanding the hospital retract the statements the hospital made against her, or she will resort to legal action. While I expect Houston Methodist will seek to grind Bowden down and drive up her legal costs, she strikes me as someone with the grit to go the distance. A lot of people are cheering for Bowden, including me.
Lots of just desserts being served up these days. I’m savoring every morsel.