Brian Stelter: Disney is a ‘symbol’ of ‘conservative backlash’ against LGBTQ 'acceptance'

Brian Stelter says Disney has become a ‘symbol’ of ‘conservative backlash’ against trans, gay people

The CNN host also said that one of the GOP’s ‘themes’ for the midterm election is ‘protecting kids’ from the ‘dangers’ of the Walt Disney Company.

CNN host Brian Stelter said Wednesday that Disney has become a “symbol” of “conservative backlash” against the “acceptance of gay and transgender people” in American society. 

During a segment on his CNN+ show “Reliable Sources,” Stelter claimed that the GOP’s “theme” for the 2022 midterms is “protecting kids” from the “dangers” of the Walt Disney Company. 

“But Disney’s just a stand in. It’s just a symbol for something bigger: A conservative backlash to growing acceptance of gay and transgender people. A conservative fear that traditional beliefs are being trampled on. And there are entire networks that program to this fear and many politicians that react to it,” Stelter continued. 

The premiere episode of Brian Stelter’s new streaming show featured original CNN anchor Dave Walker criticizing the network.  (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN)
(Kevin Mazur)

Moments later, Stelter said that Disney’s values of being “family friendly” and “gay friendly” do not need to be in conflict. He boiled criticism of the company down to attempts to “profit from conflict” and start a “crusade” in which Disney is painted as a company “indoctrinating and sexualizing children through movies and TV shows.”

Stelter then brought attention to a series of leaked videos from Disney posted by an investigative journalist. The CNN host did not play the videos, but instead described them as clips of company executives talking about “diversity, equity and inclusion” and wanting more LGBTQ characters in television programs and films. 

However, the leaked videos contained far more information than Stelter let on. 

Bob Chapek of Disney talks during the Opening Ceremony of the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 at ESPN Wide World of Sports on May 8, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. 
(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus)

In one video, Disney executive producer Latoya Raveneau said her team is regularly “adding queerness” to children’s programming. In another, a progressive activist accused Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his press secretary Christina Pushaw of trying to “erase” LGBTQ employees, “criminalize their existence” and take their kids. 

A third video showed Disney Corporate President Karey Burke telling employees that she would like to see at least 50% of Disney’s characters in the future identify as LGBTQ or a racial minority.

Stelter then went on to talk about The Parental Rights in Education Law. The law bans Florida school employees or third parties from giving “classroom instruction” on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in kindergarten through third grade. 

In March, Disney CEO Bob Chapek denounced the law as anti-LGBTQ, saying he did not immediately take a public position because he was working “behind the scenes” to express the company’s complaints to the governor. Gov. DeSantis disputed this account. 

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