Topic: Sports & Entertainment

Disney and ABC
(August 2006)

When Companies Lie Just for the Hell of It: Why would ABC adamantly deny that its decision to deep-six a planned project with Mel Gibson involving a Holocaust drama was prompted by Gibson's anti-Semitic tirade? Both the ironically appropriate subject matter and the timing of ABC's announcement made it near certain nobody would believe the network's denial, and the fact that ABC is owed by Disney, which does not like controversy of any kind, pushed the disbelief factor to the absolute maximum. But Disney was stuck: it was already in bed with Mr. Gibson, having arranged to release and publicize his latest production, "Apocalypto," in December of 2006. Rather than publicly condemn an entertainment figure whose work they were committed to promoting, and unwilling to wait until the furor had lifted before killing Gibson's Holocaust mini-series, the corporation actually decided that a blatant lie was its best course. This tells us a great deal about Disney/ABC, and probably corporate culture generally. The company clearly believes that issuing a lie for nationally publication, a lie that is manifestly unbelievable to the most gullible individual imaginable, is a wiser course than undermining a movie publicity campaign by being forthright.

It may be a costly demonstration of priorities. The public and media should file this incident away for future reference the next time Disney's or ABC's credibility is at issue. It shows us exactly how much they value the truth.



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