Disney CEO Bob Iger defended his participation on President Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum at the company’s shareholder meeting Wednesday, saying being in the room gives the company the opportunity to advocate for its values and points of view.
“I made a decision that I thought was in the best interests of this company, and I would have an opportunity to express my points of views directly to the president of the United States, and to his administration,” Iger told attendees at the meeting in Denver in response to a comment from an audience member questioning whether his presence on the President’s panel might be perceived as an implicit endorsement of Trump’s policies.
“I think it’s an important opportunity to be in the room,” he added.
Iger, a registered Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton, is the only entertainment or tech executive on the president’s panel. He has also been floated as a potential 2020 presidential candidate.
At the meeting, Iger defended embattled, subscriber-shedding ESPN, and said that its new standalone streaming service, powered by BAMTech — in which Disney invested $1 billion last year — will be operational by the end of the year. ESPN is currently finalizing a list of on-air talent layoffs as it works to cut costs.
Iger also showed clips of some of Disney’s upcoming tentpoles, including “Beauty and the Beast,” “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” The latter will be the final appearance in the “Star Wars” canon for Carrie Fisher, who played Princess-turned-General Leia Organa in the franchise and passed away late last year.
Iger shared his thoughts on the late actress. “We all miss her,” he said. “We’re proud that this movie coming up is part of her legacy”