Bob Iger is stepping down as CEO of Disney after transforming the company during his 15 years at its helm. Everyone from angry Star Wars fans to Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe is taking credit following the surprise announcement.
Iger will remain as executive chairman until his contract is up at the end of 2021, gradually transitioning his responsibilities to his successor while retaining control of the creative side of Disney. The new CEO, Bob Chapek, has been with the company for 27 years and previously ran “Experiences and Products” – theme parks and cruise ships – a role in which he oversaw Disney’s expansion in China and the near-doubling of Disney’s cruise ship fleet.
“With the successful launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of 21st Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO,” Iger said on Tuesday.
Judging by the reactions, much of the public was not convinced. Feverish speculation swirled about why Iger was leaving so suddenly. His contract had just been renewed, and Disney was doing fine financially, whatever one might think of Iger’s creative decisions.
Several people suggested Iger was planning to jump into the 2020 Democratic primary now that the herd – at one point there were over two dozen candidates – has thinned significantly. Was this the reason Disney had gone all-in for cinematic wokeness?
Others thought that Iger was stepping down in shame over the mess he’d made out of Star Wars (Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012) and other beloved franchises, dragged down by the company’s leftward political drift.
Conservative muckraker James O’Keefe appeared to be taking credit for Iger’s departure, pointing out his Project Veritas had teased another chapter in its “Exposing ABC” series to drop on Wednesday. ABC is owned by Disney. While the last Veritas video about ABC concerned a shelved report on well-connected pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, this week’s is supposedly about election-related disinformation.
Still others suggested he was heading to jail, placing him somewhere between Jeffrey Epstein and just-convicted sex pest Harvey Weinstein. Actress Paz de la Huerta’s lawsuit against Weinstein added Iger to its complaint last year, arguing his decisions permitted Weinstein’s predation.
Iger’s post-Disney plans have not been announced, but the always-trustworthy Brian Stelter of CNN made a point of dispelling political rumors.