Disney’s Litigation Against Florida Collapses as the Media Shrugs – JONATHAN TURLEY

It is a familiar pattern. Media outlets pick sides in a legal dispute and then distort the merits of the claims in favor of that party. In the fight between Disney and Florida, the media not only misrepresented a popular Florida parental rights bill (including falsely calling it the “Don’t Say Gay” law) but heralded Disney’s decision to enter the political fray to oppose the law. It then portrayed Disney’s legal moves to block state efforts to regain regulatory control over the company as brilliant and overwhelming. Some of us disagreed on all of those points, including the prospects of Disney’s ill-considered litigation strategy. Last week, that strategy collapsed with a settlement in which Disney decided to just “Let it go” and these same media outlets simply shrugged and moved on.

In a raw muscle play, Disney had its hand-picked board (the Reedy Creek Improvement District) effectively transfer authority to the company just before it was disbanded. Many in the media were thrilled by the move despite the unlikelihood of its being sustained legally.

As I wrote at the time, it would be ridiculous for a court to rule that a company could stop a state from removing special treatment for a corporation like Disney. Even as the company racked up losses in court, the media and legal experts heralded its brilliance and toughness.

In the meantime, as Disney itself admitted that it was losing money due to its political agenda, the media heaped praise on the corporation.

When it came to the lawsuits, the media portrayed the moves as brilliant and mocked Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., as outgunned as some of us struggled with how Disney could possibly prevail in the long term.

NBC News chief political analyst Chuck Todd insisted that Republicans had “better be careful going after Disney.” MSNBC host and former 2020 Biden campaign aide Symone Sanders-Townsend agreed and said  “Oh, my money’s on the Disney lobbyists, honey. My money is on the Disney lobbyists.”

On a “Morning Joe,” co-host Joe Scarborough insisted “you can’t beat Disney.” MSNBC contributor Donny Deutsch agreed: DeSantis is “fighting a fight he can’t win, and this, to me, is a precursor of him on a bigger national stage. And he’s just stupid. It’s a stupid, stupid play.”

Vox wrote that “Disney is proving to be the foe that will not die.” Another Vox headline read “How Disney just beat Ron DeSantis.”

The problem is that Disney was never winning, but viewers were not told that. The company was gushing money while losing in court. In the end, the Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act continued to garner overwhelming support in the state. DeSantis wrestled control away from Disney’s handpicked board and now Disney has dropped its challenge after suffering a series of losses in court. The Florida changes will be enforced, the new board will continue to regulate Disney, and the transferred authority from Disney’s board is null and void. So what did Disney gain?

The response from the media? Crickets.

For Disney’s part, it spent millions of dollars, alienated millions of customers, and created precedent against itself. It literally achieved nothing material from its litigation against the state beyond driving up its own costs and reinforcing the regulatory authority against the company. It then walked away.

The order from the top was clear, if belated:

Let it go, let it goCan’t hold it back anymoreLet it go, let it goTurn away and slam the door

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