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The Disney public relations executive who had a key role in the company’s disastrous response to a Florida law barring public school teachers from discussing woke sex and gender fluidity theories is leaving the beleaguered company after just three months.
Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Geoff Morrell, who crafted the company’s initial neutral stance on the law, said in a letter obtained by CNBC the job was a bad fit. Disney later reversed its position under pressure from fringe groups and activist employees and its stock has since plummeted. In addition, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into a law a bill stripping Disney of longstanding tax breaks and carveouts that gave its Orlando theme park unprecedented autonomy.
“After three months in this new role, it has become clear to me that for a number of reasons it is not the right fit,” Morrell said in the letter. “After talking this over with [Disney CEO] Bob [Chapek], I have decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities.”
Geoff Morrell Out as Disney Communications Chief – After Less Than 4 Months
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) April 29, 2022
Morrell, a former ABC White House correspondent and Pentagon spokesman under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, took the job Jan. 24 after a stint at oil giant BP. He quickly ensnared the company in controversy when he advised Chapek to go public with Disney’s reasons for not taking a stand on the Florida legislation critics inaccurately called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. But Chapek’s open letter enraged a cadre of woke, LGBTQ employees, and the CEO soon backtracked.
Sources close to Morrell told CNBC the executive warned the company to stay out of the controversy, fretting that it could open the door to accusations of hypocrisy due to Disney’s close ties with China’s oppressive communist party leadership. Morrell also worried that a stance against the Florida bill would bring withering criticism from former President Trump and DeSantis, which proved prescient.
Morrell’s decision to publicize its neutral stance helped trigger a backlash that then prompted Chapek to cave. Disney workers have held walkouts and recalled for Chapek to be fired, before and after he delivered a groveling apology for the initial decision not to oppose the law, which polls show is supported by a vast majority of Americans.
Disney’s stock has sunk from a 52-week high of $190 to just $111 amid the controversy, with the company losing tens of billions of dollars in market capitalization.
(Disclosure: The Daily Wire has announced plans for kids entertainment content.)