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Disney leaders always were woke

Newly obtained video confirms that both recent CEOs of the Walt Disney Co. were “woke,” as a fired star takes the company to court.

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The Walt Disney Company has never been in the “civil war” many influencers thought was raging at its corporate offices. An investigative journalist – the same one who broke the Reimagine Tomorrow story in April of 2022 – has revealed that the one man everyone thought was a friend, was an enemy. In fact, thanks to Christopher F. Rufo, we now know that Disney steered hard left three days after Joe Biden took office. This might or might not have to do with Bob Iger’s Presidential ambitions. But it shows that even Bob Chapek suffered from the Woke Mind Virus that Elon Musk has repeatedly described. This revelation tells us all we need to know about Disney, which is that someone needs to take over that company, hold it up by its collective ankles, and shake it. Even then, the company might be beyond all help.

Review of Disney history

Herewith a review of company history, which CNAV has covered here and here.The Disney company began, of course, with Walt Disney (1901-66) and his brother Roy (1893-1971). In 1923 they founded the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, which later took Walt Disney’s name exclusively. The other name changes mean precious little; the big thing to remember is that the Walt Disney company stood for quality content that appealed to innocence.

Disney is most famous for its cartoon characters, like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and all their friends. But they also produced original cartoons from children’s stories from a variety of courses. They of course included Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm (Snow White, Cinderella, et al.) and J. M. Barrie (Peter Pan). Eventually they branched out into live-action film. They paid well and thus produced some of the most memorable films in the Western world. In this they drew from sources like Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) and P. L. Travers (Mary Poppins).

But Walt Disney also planned to build an entire city that would prove concepts of futuristic living. He called it Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow – EPCOT for short. At first he thought of taking over the site of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Disney also considered sites in New Jersey, the Washington, D.C. area, St. Louis, even Palm Beach. Finally the company settled on central Florida.

EPCOT and Reedy Creek

And that’s when they bought all that land in Orange and Osceola Counties, and proposed the Reedy Creek Improvement District. That District was never supposed to exist merely for theme parks! The Walt Disney Company planned to build a city, in which no one would own anything but everyone would have a job, and the city would govern itself without regard to any authorities in Orange or Osceola Counties. To lobby then-Governor Haydon Burns, Disney produced a short film – the EPCOT film.


Worth noting, incidentally, is that Arthur C. Clark featured the original EPCOT concept in his novel 2010: Odyssey Two.

But this futuristic city would never happen. Walt Disney died even before Burns’ successor Charles Kirk signed the Reedy Creek Improvement Act into law. With no living person to advocate as effectively for it, the city concept died within two years. And for more than ten years after that, Walt Disney World consisted only of the Magic Kingdom Park and several themed hotels and at least one “residential hotel” facility: Disney Village. Eventually EPCOT did come into being, but not as a city. Instead the EPCOT Center opened as just another theme park, but more like a continuing world’s fair. It consists of:

  • Futureworld, with pavilions dedicated to a wide variety of technological visions including sea, land, energy, and medicine, and
  • The World Showcase, with no fewer than nine national pavilions featuring history and even food from each country.

EPCOT center always was problematic

Futureworld always had a problem. To the extent that it ever accurately predicted the future, the “future” would become the present. This happened in 1993, when NASA laid on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope – in orbit. The AT&T Geosphere ride ended with a display of two astronauts repairing a satellite in orbit – and that was supposed to be in the future! Disney had to rip out all the pavilions to update them.

The World Showcase had its own problems. Start with the overpriced novelties, foodstuffs, and other souvenirs. Add to it that the United States Pavilion had the beginnings of “woke” even in 1993.

But all this reflected a deeper problem, one that other great creators noticed. Among them: J. R. R. Tolkien, who adamantly refused to let Disney adapt any of his work. Not for animated cartoons, or for any other kind of feature. Even before 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Tolkien sampled a few Mickey Mouse cartoons and other fairy-tale adaptations. At once he saw what was wrong: Walt Disney “dumbed everything down.” He took a patronizing attitude toward his children’s audience, assuming that they wouldn’t understand sophisticated concepts like decision-making and morality.

Tolkien, by all accounts, was ready to vomit.


To him, fairy tales were morality plays, and one should dramatize them as such. Tolkien himself wrote for audiences varying in age from “middle school” to high school. (Producer Peter Jackson adapted The Lord of the Rings at adult level.)

When Disney decided to go woke

Bob Iger took over as CEO of Disney in 2005, and salted the company with Alphabet Soup and other leftist “creatives” and engineers. When Bob Chapek took over in 2020, people might have thought changes would come. As Christopher F. Rufo now reveals, they were sadly mistaken.

How Rufo obtained this conference-call video, he won’t say. The video he now has, dates from January 23, 2021 – three days after the Inauguration. Viewing the linked content requires a paid subscription.. But Rufo posted part of it to X:

Rufo provided a full transcript of his five minutes of footage. Here is the transcript of the part of the video he shared to X:

I mean, Bob [Chapek] has talked about this eloquently since he’s become CEO. I’ll say a couple of things about it. We’ve tended to shy away from politics, and in doing so, I think we’ve shied away from talking about issues that aren’t political at all, like the issues that we’re talking about today, because we believe in doing so, maybe it looks like we’re taking a stand. Well, in that reality, we should be taking a stand. By the way, I take responsibility for this. I was CEO for 15 years, and so I manage the company’s public-facing processes and how we were portraying ourselves. And I think that we have to be less cautious as Bob, I think, was just alluding to about such things and not be concerned. Just commenting about what happened in Washington last week, that’s not political on our part at all. We know that what we saw was fundamentally wrong and that it was rooted in hatred and disrespect and contempt and intolerance, and we should feel free as a company to comment about that without retribution.

Another thing I want to say that I’ve learned these last 9 to 12 months is I’m very proud of a lot of the work we’ve done in terms of diversity inclusion on screen. When we did Coco, for instance, at Pixar, a great example of that, or Tiana, or of course Black Panther is one of the great examples of that, I allowed those things to make me feel a bit complacent in a sense. It’s not that I wanted to be that way, but I thought, “Wow, we did Black Panther. How great are we?” And it caused me to not focus as much as I should have on the culture of the company and the environment and on the voices that were telling those stories as opposed to just how they were being portrayed on the screen.

Bob Chapek then followed up with an announcement that the company would spend a lot of money on non-white “communities.” This would involve:

  • 50% of “charitable giving” to “underrepresented communities,” and
  • Spending as much as $1 billion a year buying from “diverse suppliers.”

From that to Latoya Raveneau’s “not-at-all-secret [Alphabet Soup] agenda” was a much smaller step than anyone knew.

More to the point, Disney threw in completely with Democratic Party talking points about the January 6 Event. Had that company, with all its resources, bothered to investigate that event properly, it might have discovered that it was a false-flag pseudo-operation. They treated it as the explosion of a political movement more dangerous than German National Socialism in the last century.

Further troubles

That was only the beginning of Disney’s troubles. When a major entertainment company tells stories comparing half their audience to the kind of people who starved, baked, experimented on, and did other atrocious things to six million people because they followed the original religion unchanged since Abraham, and another four million because they thought them genetically inferior or something of the kind, they might as well tell that half of their audience that they are “unpersons,” as George Orwell might have said. Suddenly those “unpersons” won’t buy their products, or tickets to their parks – all of which are overpriced anyway. They’ll look for other sources of entertainment, and those sources are already arising. They include Daily Wire, Bentkey, and the coming American Heartland Park.

In the meantime, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) has relentlessly legislated against them. This did not start with his Parental Rights in Education Act, regardless of what the company said afterward.

The governor started with taking Reedy Creek away from Disney. Which should have happened sooner – who did Walt Disney think he would become, the Duke of Reedy Creek? It would have been unconstitutional to let that remain. Article I Section 10 Clause 1 clearly forbids States to grant titles of nobility. The company sued, claiming retaliation – and recently a court threw that lawsuit out. And the company continued to ruin every intellectual property it acquired.

The latest

Now, of course, Disney is in a proxy war with corporate troubleshooter Nelson Peltz. Peltz may, or may not, have taken the revelation that Disney shelved a movie titled Sound of Freedom – which went on to gross more than $250 million worldwide on a combined production and promotional budget of $20 million. In any case, the company refuses to abandon The Message, and as a result is now under attack from three different directions. Besides the proxy fight and the Reedy Creek debacle, Actress Gina Carano is suing the company over her unceremonious firing.


Bad enough that they terminated her without the courtesy of a telephone call or any other communication. They defamed her in public, and certain leftist activists carried their activism to the point of stalking her. (And, indeed, threatening her with death!) So she alleges in her complaint; see the docket page here.

Indeed that complaint speaks volumes about hypocrisy on Disney’s part, and the part of the government whose side they took in January 2021. From the complaint, we now learn that someone mistakenly copied Carano on an email predating that January conference by two weeks. Two days after the January 6 Event, the company was looking for a scapegoat “to deflect from [Chapek]’s failed leadership.” And that occasioned the post that finally led to her termination! In other words, Disney did more than fire her. They set her up, over a campaign that lasted a very long time.

Disney to suffer its worst embarrassment

CNAV appreciates the work of certain YouTube influencers in bringing the case of Carano v. Disney to its attention. But we wonder whether any of them read the complaint. It tells a story of a campaign against her lasting long before her termination, and also reveals that Disney and Lucasfilm “cast” (including Mark Hamill, who destroyed his iconic character in Star Wars Eight) had afflicted themselves with the Woke Mind Virus. That surely ought to concern anyone who mourns for a once-great franchise.

But this case still promises the worst embarrassment the company has ever faced. Carano is asking for reinstatement – which probably would be useless – and damages that could amount to millions of dollars. (An earlier report of her seeking $75,000 is incomplete; that’s only the minimum damages a federal case requires.) She also demands trial by jury, which can only proceed under a welter of publicity. Pre-trial discovery will cause the worst embarrassment. Apart from the origins of that January 8 email, and the role of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy in trying to wreck Carano’s career, discovery will reveal how deep the rot goes. This, plus the Rufo Release this week, will infuriate investors and cause them to look for a new CEO.

Where the case could go

CNAV must give one cautionary note: Carano’s case is in the hands of Judge Sherilyn Peace Garnett, a Biden appointee. The case also needs a magistrate judge, but the first one (Pat Donahue) has already ducked the case.


And now Gina Carano has added another famous name to her legal team: Eugene Volokh, of Volokh Conspiracy fame. Volokh is an attorney with the same firm (Schaerr Jaffe LLP) that took her case. Apparently Carano added Volokh because Donald Falk, an earlier “local counsel,” was disqualified for not having an office in California’s Central District. Volokh talked about her case shortly after her firing, as did his colleague Robby Soave at Reason. All this is part of the public record. More to the point, Eugene Volokh is a First Amendment expert and will prove a formidable match for Judge Garnett. The revelations over the past two days cannot fail to substantiate the key allegations in Gina Carano’s complaint. (And also give some investors a cause of action against Iger, Chapek, and Kennedy for dereliction of fiduciary duty.)

Obviously the machinations have already begun. Elon Musk himself hired Shaeer Jaffe to represent Carano, and he might involve himself in the proxy fight as well.

But whether any of this is enough to repair the damage to Disney, is anyone’s guess. Perhaps what Disney really needs is some of the talent of the kind that have adapted Tolkien’s work earlier.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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