EXCLUSIVE — As the showdown between Florida’s legislature and The Walt Disney Company heated up over an education bill that liberal activists incorrectly labeled the “Don’t say gay bill,” Disney’s then-CEO called Gov. Ron DeSantis and complained about the “pressure” he faced.
DeSantis recounts the conversation in a chapter of his new memoir, “The Courage to be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for American Revival,” which will be released Tuesday by publisher HarperCollins. The chapter, shared exclusively with Fox News Digital, reveals what Bob Chapek, who was Disney CEO at the time, told DeSantis as the fight over Florida’s education law heated up in the spring of 2022.
“As the controversy over the Parental Rights in Education bill was coming to a head, Chapek called me. He did not want Disney to get involved, but he was getting a lot of pressure to weigh in against the bill,” DeSantis writes.
“We get pressured all the time,” Chapek told DeSantis, according to the governor’s book. “But this time is different. I haven’t seen anything like this before.”
Chapek told shareholders that he had called DeSantis on March 9 to urge him not to sign the bill, which restricts schools from teaching gender and sexuality to children in kindergarten through third grade. Activists nicknamed it the “Don’t say gay bill” despite the legislation not using those terms.
“I called Gov. DeSantis this morning to express our disappointment and concern that if the legislation becomes law, it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary and transgender kids and families,” Chapek said, according to FOX 35 Orlando.
According to a report from the New York Post, Chapek had privately expressed his hesitancy to involve his company in the political issues in Florida, the home of Disney World, in the months prior. But the pressure campaign within Disney and from Democrats nationwide ultimately convinced him take a stand.
DeSantis, however, issued a warning: If Disney got involved with the legislation, “People like me will say, ‘Gee, how come Disney has never said anything about China, where they make a fortune?’” DeSantis told Chapek.
The Florida governor said if Disney stayed out of the politics, Disney would face 48 hours of outrage when the bill passed. “[And] when I sign it, you will get another 48 hours of outrage, mostly online,'” DeSantis said, adding, “Then there will be some new outrage that the woke mob will focus on and people will forget about this issue, especially considering the outrage is directed at a political-media narrative, not the actual text of the legislation itself.”
DeSantis wrote that Chapek and Disney “ultimately caved to leftist media and activist pressure and pressed the false narrative against the bill.”
This is an excerpt only. Read the full story here.