Disney Hires Obama-Era Pentagon Spokesperson To ‘Build On’ Company’s ‘Strong Reputation’
Sign for the media brand Disney Store on 22nd November 2021 in London, United Kingdom. The Walt Disney Company, commonly known as Walt Disney or simply Disney, is an American diversified multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate.
Pphoto by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images.

A former pentagon spokesman during the Obama administration, Geoff Morrell, has been hired by Disney to become the company’s chief corporate affairs officer. 

Morrell had roles as Pentagon press secretary and assistant secretary of defense for public affairs in the Department of Defense from 2007-2011 primarily during the Obama administration. Prior to that, Morrell had worked for ABC News as a White House correspondent. 

Axios pointed out that Morrell’s old company, ABC, is now owned by Disney. 

“[The] spheres of communications, corporate governance, social responsibility, government relations and public policy are increasingly interconnected and require a focused, coordinated approach. Geoff is a seasoned, insightful and accomplished public affairs officer, and I am delighted to appoint him to this new role, where he will build on Disney’s already strong reputation,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said.

Prior to his joining Disney, Morrell worked for British Petroleum in London. He will now work with Disney’s environmental, social, and governance team as well the entertainment corporate social responsibility team. 

Chief executive of BP, Bernard Looney, praised Morrell in a company memo relating to the move.

 “He helped me change the tone of the corporate voice so that it is hopefully now much more human,” he said, noting that Morrell had helped the company with “modernization.” 

“Those Disney teams are already world class, and having led a similar integration at bp, I am confident that bringing them together will help the company even better engage with the world, especially important as Disney and the industry navigate a period of tremendous change,” Morrell posted to LinkedIn. 

He referenced the fact that Disney was “transforming itself.” 

He explained, “That’s what drew me to this new job—another industry evolving, another company transforming itself. And the man leading that transformation clearly doesn’t shy away from a challenge.”

Morrell said he hoped to help Disney keep its “beloved” status. 

“Few companies are as beloved as Disney, and I am committed to doing everything I can to make sure it remains that way,” he said according to The New York Times. 

The Times also noted that the former Pentagon official, who was retained by Obama after George W. Bush left office, is joining Disney when “neutrality in today’s hyperpartisan world is almost impossible.”

In recent days, Disney has faced criticism over its relationship with China, including for removing a Simpson episode in Hong Kong. Some say they did so to avoid offending the communist regime. In the episode, the Simpsons visit China and visit “Tien An Men Square.” A sign says, “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened” making reference to the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. 

“It is in their best interest not to offend the Chinese government, or simply create complications,” Professor Kenny Ng told the Financial Times, adding, “they have no strong motivation to put on offending materials at this sensitive moment.”

Ng said that he believed the move “largely to do with the business interest of US streaming companies.”

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