Disney Spikes 20/20: Where's the Left?
by L. Brent Bozell III
October 22, 1998
It's a left-winger's dream: evil media corporation spikes
critical investigative TV report on its own U.S. operations. In left-wing
circles, every media outlet's independence is automatically compromised by the
capitalist interests of its owners, and the highest journalistic calling is to
destroy your own employer's bottom line.
So where were the lefties when ABC News spiked its
investigative report on Disney's business practices, specifically the charge
of laxity in hiring employees with records as Peeping Toms, exhibitionists,
and child molesters? Brian Ross, one of TV's finest and fairest investigative
reporters, was on the case for weeks, doing interviews and having a camera
crew do extensive shooting in Florida. Ross even found additional evidence.
But ABC News President David Westin killed the story, claiming ridiculously
that it had nothing to do with Disney's self-defense.
Ross's report was based on a new book, titled "Disney,
The Mouse Betrayed: Greed, Corruption and Children at Risk," by Peter and
Rochelle Schweizer. The authors and their publisher (Regnery) delayed release
of the book and promised to accommodate ABC's wish for an exclusive, and what
a great exclusive it would have been.
The Schweizers had not assembled some cut-and-paste,
fly-by-night, anonymously-sourced hatchet job. The book is a startling expose,
a product of two years of journalistic labor that names names, reprints
internal documents, interviews scores of actual Disney employees and victims
of Disney malfeasance. For the lefties, the Schweizers cover not just Disney's
appalling record on crime. There's sexual harassment, child labor violations,
and how management allows Disney World to have twice the injury rate than the
amusement park average - because handling the injury lawyers is cheaper than
fixing the problem.
So now that the scoop is out, where are the other networks?
It's understandable that ABC doesn't want to disembowel its own parent
company's image. But why wouldn't its competitors jump at the chance? Smell
the three-alarm soccer-mom-scaring appeal: take your kids to Disney World, and
get them flashed by exhibitionists who Disney won't fire? Or peeped on in
changing rooms or molested by Disney employees that Disney failed to perform
background checks on?
At CBS, "60 Minutes" executive producer Don Hewitt
claims he's toying with the idea for some eventual date. There's no signs of
life at NBC, which baldly promoted Disney CEO Michael Eisner's book in a
two-part interview on the "Today" show. CNN's probably still pledged
to silence after all the networks sang hosannas over Ted Turner's
billion-dollar pledge to the United Nations. They're all living up to the
left-wing archetype of media conglomerates, fat, happy, and unchallenged by
journalistic scrutiny. What kind of strange gentleman's agreement do these
The left-wing media critics are betraying their own
hypocrisy. If a network owner manufactures products for defense contractors
and nuclear power plants, it's worth maligning. But if instead the owner is
only a polluter of minds, with its films, TV programs, and rap records, then
the grand investigators are nowhere to be found. They just wouldn't want to
hurt a "champion of free expression."
Disney's strangely reckless business practices are a
shocking new story. Unfortunately, Disney's eroded image as a provider of
uplifting family entertainment is not, but the Schweizers effectively catalog
the many ways in which Disney under Michael Eisner has cast all considerations
about a family-friendly image out the window. Indeed, he's sent a clear and
consistent signal he hopes Uncle Walt spins like a top in his grave.
Some of Eisner's moves might be explained as a
image-be-damned search for profits, like Disney's partnership in the
pay-per-view programs of "Viewer's Choice," which quickly spun off
"Hot Choice," with new porn titles by smut queens like Marilyn
Chambers. But many of the most offensive products put out by Disney
acquisitions like Miramax Films and Hollywood Records make no money.
Take for example, one of the Schweizers' favorites: a band
appropriately named Human Waste Project sings about the Virgin Mary (and since
they're already aspiring to Hell, they also call her a "whore")
eagerly providing oral sex. In the same religion-bashing vein, you've got the
Rome-bashing duo of ABC's "Nothing Sacred" and the Miramax film
"Priest," both anti-Catholic business disasters.
All this creative destruction of traditional values must
warm left-wing hearts, but the left-wing media activists might also stay quiet
because Eisner is so generous with the titans of the Democratic Party,
especially Bill Clinton. If they and the networks have seen the latest polls,
with the nation's collapsing values listed as the number one voter concern,
you could understand why they're whistling past this new book, which does for
Disney's reputation what Ken Starr's report did for Bill Clinton's.
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