Disney CEO Bob Iger left Donald Trump’s business deals council in June of last year after Trump decided to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, calling it a “matter of principle,” a reasoning he probably should have found around the time the first Muslim ban was announced. And in the fall, there was speculation that the 67-year old Iger would run for president in 2020.
In a new Vogue profile, Iger reveals that he seriously contemplated doing just that. He ultimately spared us from another CEO campaigning for president, however, because Disney decided to buy a $52 billion dollar media company instead:
But despite his success, Iger and his venerable brand face an existential threat from Silicon Valley, in particular from companies like Netflix and Amazon. Disney has wagered on content, beloved but mutable stories with loyal audiences; meanwhile, Netflix has made so much money on subscriptions that it suddenly gets to spend billions on content of its own. (Maybe even more menacing is Amazon, which, as long as it keeps selling toilet paper, can afford to make as many movies as it wants.) Iger has watched two of his once powerful brands, ESPN and ABC, flounder in the era of cord cutting. So, last summer, with his retirement looming, he conjured another deal, likely his last and certainly his biggest: the $52 billion acquisition of the lion’s share of 21st Century Fox, a mega-merger that, if it passes regulatory muster, may help to stem the tech tide and will keep him at Disney through 2021, undoubtedly disappointing friends who hoped he’d run for president in 2020.
Whom amongst us hasn’t had their presidential aspirations dashed by an 11-digit mega-merger?
Just one of those friends who was disappointed by Iger’s decision not to run? Oprah Winfrey:
“Bob is one of the people I respect most in the world,” [Winfrey] says. “That’s a very short list. He is infinitely capable of multiple categories of expertise, and he has created an environment where you can disagree with him—and that’s not just because I’m Oprah. I really, really pushed him to run for president, so much so that I said to him, ‘Gee, if you ever decide to run for office, I will go door to door carrying leaflets. I will go sit and have tea with people.’ ” I ask if perhaps there will be a place for Iger in her Cabinet. “Um, I’d have been happy to be in his Cabinet.”
And this was the inspirational campaign we would have been treated to by Iger had he decided to run:
“The thought I had was coming from the patriot in me, growing up at a time when we respected our politicians not only for what they stood for but because of what they accomplished. I am horrified at the state of politics in America today, and I will throw stones in multiple directions. Dialogue has given way to disdain. I, maybe a bit naively, believed that there was a need for someone in high elected office to be more open-minded and willing to not only govern from the middle but to try to shame everyone else into going to the middle.”
Ah yes, The Patriot (2000) in Iger made him want to run the Jon Huntsman 2012 campaign.
There is no way that someone who made $36 million dollars last year can possibly know what it means to struggle to make ends meet in 2018. And the idea that business experience translates directly to politics—and not just politics, but the hardest job in politics—is what helped bring President Donald Trump into serious consideration in the first place.
So I beg our nation’s corporate overloads: follow Iger’s lead. Buy a new house or Spotify or something, but please do not run for president. Thanks.