Disney’s Censorship of the Los Angeles Times Backfires

On September 24, 2017, Los Angeles Times’ reporter Daniel Miller wrote, Is Disney paying it’s share in Anaheim? criticizing the onigopoly for bullying the California city because of all the revenue it brings to Orange County.

According to Sam Rubin, entertainment reporter for KTLA Channel 5 Morning News in Southern California, Disney had reached out to editors at The Los Angeles Times to show their disapproval of Miller’s handling of the situation. When The Times refused to back down, Mickey Mouse and Company, chose to ban The Los Angeles Times from all Disney related properties and events.

In censoring the largest newspaper in the second largest market in the country, Disney has received incredible backlash from national publications, several not owned by The Los Angeles Times parent company, Tribune Media, one of which being The Washington Post.

The American peoples distrust of mainstream media will only intensify as the Disney juggernaut, who also owns, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, The Muppet Studio, ABC and ESPN censors outside sources. It sets a dangerous precedent, only diving deeper into the general populations distrust for not only big government but big business.

Four film critics organizations united as the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics joined forces to denounce Disney’s censorship of The Los Angeles Times.

Here is what the official press release stated in its entirety:

The members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics jointly denounce the Walt Disney Company’s media blackout of the Los Angeles Times. Furthermore, all four critics’ organizations have voted to disqualify Disney’s films from year-end awards consideration until said blackout is publicly rescinded.

On Nov. 3, The Times published a statement that its writers and editors had been blocked from attending advance screenings of Disney films, in response to The Times’ news coverage of Disney’s business arrangements with the City of Anaheim. Disney’s actions, which include an indefinite ban on any interaction with The Times, are antithetical to the principles of a free press and set a dangerous precedent in a time of already heightened hostility toward journalists.

It is admittedly extraordinary for a critics’ group, let alone four critics’ groups, to take any action that might penalize film artists for decisions beyond their control. But Disney brought forth this action when it chose to punish The Times’ journalists rather than express its disagreement with a business story via ongoing public discussion. Disney’s response should gravely concern all who believe in the importance of a free press, artists included.

The New York Film Critics Circle will vote on its annual awards Thursday, Nov. 30; the Los Angeles Film Critics Association will vote Sunday, Dec. 3; the Boston Society of Film Critics will vote Sunday, Dec. 10; and the National Society of Film Critics will vote Saturday, Jan. 6.

There are Disneyphiles who will remain loyal to the brands no matter what happens with these film associations, however, the bottom line is money and if Disney stands to lose just one dollar, then we can expect their position with The Los Angeles Times and Tribune Media to be reversed rather quickly.

One must realize that if the Disney Company was still a private entity, they could censor whomever they wish. However, as it stands, Disney is a publicly traded conglomerate and full disclosure is expected not only by its stockholders, but by the American people.

In censoring the press because of their behind-the-scenes business dealings, all that will come of this, is tarnishing their public, family friendly image.

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