Ron DeSantis advises Disney to ‘drop the lawsuit’ against Florida, or prepare to lose

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ unflagging confidence in his governance was represented with a word of advice to Disney over its lawsuit against Florida.

“We’ve basically moved on…drop the lawsuit.”

(Video: CNBC)

The Republican GOP presidential hopeful’s more recently adopted campaign strategy of lengthy sit-downs with various media outlets continued to play out as he joined CNBC’s Brian Sullivan. The discussion which premiered Monday on “Last Call” covered an array of topics, including the DeSantis culture war clash with the House of Mouse.

The host asked the governor why not call Disney CEO Bob Iger to hash out differences that led to the company suing the state over dissolving their self-governance status following opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation.

“I think parents have lost some confidence that this is a company that’s really speaking to what they want, the way it had been traditionally,” DeSantis expressed, noting how radically different Disney content had become from even more recent years when he and his wife Casey had had their wedding at the theme park.

Were he to speak to Iger, the governor contended he would, “just say go back to what you did well, I think it’s going to be the right business decision.”

“We’ve basically moved on. They’re suing the state of Florida. They’re going to lose that lawsuit. So what I would say is drop the lawsuit,” he added.

In July, Iger, whose tenure bookended Bob Chapek’s time as CEO when the back-and-forth with Disney had begun, had addressed the matter of the lawsuit on CNBC.

“We are concerned that he had decided to retaliate against the company for a position the company took on pending legislation in that state,” he said and argued for DeSantis to, “retaliate against the company in a way that would be harmful to the business was not something that we could sit back and tolerate.”

“And so we have filed a lawsuit to protect our First Amendment rights there and to protect our business, frankly. The last thing that I want for the company is for the company to be drawn into any culture wars,” Iger added, despite Disney’s continued actions on that front.

In response to the CEO’s position, DeSantis posted a video from a Disney company meeting where General Entertainment President Karey Burke had announced their intent that at least half of all future characters represent a minority group, whether it be racial or sexual identity.

“I’m here as the mother of two queer children, actually, one transgender child and one pansexual child, and also as a leader,” Burke said. “I have heard so much from so many of my colleagues over the past few weeks in open forums, through emails and phone conversations. I feel a responsibility to speak not just for myself but also for [my kids].”

In continuing his defense of doing away with the Reedy Creek Improvement District, now the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, under which Disney had long operated to facilitate economic development, DeSantis pointed out, “Your competitors all do very well here. At Universal SeaWorld, they have not had the same special privileges as you have.”

“So all we want to do is treat everybody the same and let’s move forward. I’m totally fine with that. But I’m not fine with giving extraordinary privileges to one special company at the exclusion of everybody else,” he added.

Additionally, the governor had pointed out that his policies had benefited Disney, particularly during COVID.

“No one has made Disney more money recently than me because, during COVID, they were open in Florida. They were locked shut in California,” he reminded Sullivan before noting, “In fact, when Disney closed their parks — I didn’t tell ’em to close, they did it voluntarily — we got all their employees’ information, we ran ’em through unemployment, we helped them stay afloat until they could open again.”


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