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Watch this video, sent on 9/11 to all Disney employees, and you tell us: Is Disney CEO Robert Iger simply commemorating Disney’s support for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York or is something else going on here?
Some have speculated that Iger harbors political aspirations and this video — featuring testimonials about Iger and his leadership from a seemingly emotional Diane Sawyer and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg — is unlikely to dispel that notion for anyone. Not with Bloomberg declaring, “Bob Iger has been a great leader. . . He really is a great American.”
“Never doubt — he’s a New Yorker,” Sawyer intones. (Cue soft music, “I’m coming home. . .”) Iger also stresses his connection to New York (“It was my home”) and then back to Sawyer, who says (somewhat awkwardly), “It’s a great leader. . . a great gift. Let’s say what it really is — courage. Future.”
The video was made in connection with Iger being honored (with the CEO of Sharp Electronics) at an event last week emceed by Billy Crystal supporting the memorial. In an email to staff with a link to the video, Iger said his visit to New York was “an opportunity to express our Company’s continued commitment to this historic place, and to share my personal reflections about the horror and heroism of 9/11 and the way this moving memorial honors those it remembers.” Disney has given $5 million to the memorial fund and has donated such services as design work and crowd control advisors.
The three-minute video, which was sent to Disney employees because they had participated in the donation process, depicts Iger in hard hat at Ground Zero as construction of the memorial was underway. Sawyer talks about Iger’s concern for the staff on the day of the attacks and how she knew on the day of the attack that “Bob had friends who he was very worried about.” Iger — still in hardhat — is then seen telling a New York official that his college roommate, Jay Fischler, was a battalion chief in the New York City fire department who was present on 9/11 and survived. “So there’s a special connection for me, not only to New York City fire department but with this site,” he says.
Disney spokeswoman Zenia Mucha says Disney was one of first contributors to the museum. “Bob was honored at a dinner along with the jury [that picked the memorial design] and Sharp Corp. And everyone had a video and that’s what this was for,” Mucha says. She adds that Iger “is a New Yorker, he grew up there. It was about what that museum means to people when they visit.”
So is Iger — born and raised on Long Island — commemorating the past while thinking of the future? Watch and decide.
(This post was updated with more context on the video that was provided by Disney.)
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