How a conservative watchdog confronts ‘woke’ CEOs at shareholder meetings after purchasing stock
‘I like to think that we kind of provide the balance in the room,’ Justin Danhof told Fox News Digital
During a shareholders meeting he was able to attend Wednesday by purchasing a single share of the company, a conservative watchdog scolded Walt Disney Company executives over employee training that features elements of critical race theory.
That was part of a broader strategy Justin Danhof outlined last month.
“If you get your moral compass from Disney, it’s broken. Your compass is broken, go fix it,” Danhof told Fox News Digital when explaining how he began confronting high-powered CEOs to counter what he views as left-wing politics gripping many of the nation’s most popular brands.
National Center for Public Policy Research executive vice president Justin Danhof spoke to Fox News Digital at CPAC.
Danhof, the executive vice president of the conservative think tank National Center for Public Policy Research, spoke to Fox News Digital before he took the stage at Orlando’s Conservative Political Action Conference last month.
“About 12 years ago now, we took a look at the landscape of corporate America, and we were really concerned with these large corporations starting to move in lockstep with the political left on an array of issues,” Danhof said. “At that time, it fell under this banner of CSR – corporate social responsibility – these days it flies under the banner of ESG, that’s environmental, social and corporate governance.”
Danhof said “environmental, social and corporate governance” truly means whatever the liberal policymakers want to “get out” of corporate America – so he sought to fight back.
“We looked at that landscape and said, ‘How is this happening?’ And we found this little, unused tool called shareholder activism,” Danhof said. “What the left was doing, they were buying up small percentages of shares in large, publicly traded companies in the United States and slowly integrating their policy preferences through shareholder advocacy into business decision-making. So, that’s how we’ve gotten corporate America to the point where it’s just woke on just about every single environmental, social and governance issue.”
Danhof decided his group would do the same thing, from a conservative perspective.
“We have a stock portfolio, a lot of the S&P 500, where we engage from a right-of-center perspective,” Danhof said. “I like to think that we kind of provide the balance in the room, in that sense.”
While being invited to a shareholder meeting of a major company such as Disney might seem prestigious, he explained most average Americans can attend without sacrificing their bank account if they play by the rules.
“To attend a shareholder meeting of a publicly traded company, you need to own a whopping one share of that company,” he said. “So if you’re upset at Coca-Cola for an action they’ve taken, I think it’s like $58 these days buys you admission to the shareholder meeting.”
Danhof cited a legendary encounter with Apple CEO Tim Cook over green spending, and the time he forced an apology from ABC’s “The View” co-host Joy Behar after he confronted Disney’s CEO with disparaging comments she made about then-Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian beliefs, as two of his most high-profile shareholder meetings.
On Wednesday, Danhof attended Disney’s meeting once again, this time to confront the company over a 2021 report by the Manattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo that detailed an employee training program containing elements of critical race theory.
During the virtual meeting, Danhof called it a “race-based employee training program” and urged the company to make changes to avoid a “myriad of legal and reputational risks.” He also invoked “The View” once again after co-host Whoopi Goldberg was suspended by ABC for two weeks after saying the Holocaust wasn’t about race but rather different groups of “White” people.
“Was Whoopi Goldberg required to attend Disney’s so-called antiracism trainings? If so, that may explain a lot about her completely warped views on race, the culture at Disney and the damaging effects of critical race theory generally,” Danhof told Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
ABC’s "The View" co-host Whoopi Goldberg was suspended and apologized after she declared the Holocaust was "not about race."
Before a Disney executive could answer, Danhof offered his thoughts on critical race theory.
“Critical race theory, or CRT, debases human existence by reducing it to a singular element that no one can control: their skin tone. This absolutely racist teaching focuses on so-called ‘White privilege’ being at the root of everything in society and insists that white people are always the oppressor, and everyone else is oppressed to one degree or another,” he said.
“Brainwashing like this leads to the illogical conclusion of folks such as Goldberg that Jews are White and, therefore, incapable of being victims of racism. CRT has so distorted beliefs that supposedly educated people are given nationwide platforms to declare that the Holocaust was not about race,” Danhof continued. “That’s, of course, insane. Hitler would be shocked to know that his entire Nazi effort was about something other than race.”
Danhof then asked why Disney would subject its employees to CRT training, pointing out that the practice could help China get away with human rights abuses.
“When Disney and other companies team up with the far left to promote CRT, and pretend that America is irreparably and systematically racist, it is doing the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party. The CPP commits actual human rights abuses by running slave labor camps … yet when our State Department and others report on this, the CCP simply responds that the United States is no better since it oppresses its Black and Brown population,” Danhof said.
Chapek did not provide a response.
Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Danhof feels that Disney is just one of many American companies pushing a liberal agenda.
“All of these companies moralize to America, they moralize about Black Lives Matter, George Floyd, all sorts of LGBTQ issues, the big transgender push, even amongst male athletes now crushing female athletes in sports, they’re all on that arc of moralizing to Americans and they stay silent in the face of actual human rights abuses. In that way, they’re useful idiots for the CCP,” Danhof told Fox News Digital.
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