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The Walt Disney Co. is apparently punishing the Los Angeles Times for a negative story about Disneyland, a reporter said in a series of tweets Friday that were supported by a written statement from the newspaper.
“The Los Angeles Times has been ‘put on pause’ by Disney, barring its reporters and critics from seeing its movies,” tweeted Glenn Whipp, who writes columns about film and television for the newspaper. “Disney didn’t like the Times‘ recent two-part story detailing Disneyland’s business ties with the city of Anaheim,” Whipp continued.
Disney reportedly didn’t invite a Times reviewer to an advance screening of Thor: Ragnarok, but the retaliation apparently didn’t stop with that one film, and Whipp blames CEO Bob Iger for creating the dustup.
In a tweet, Whipp called the decision “significant because Iger is said to harbor political ambitions when he retires from Disney in 2019. Is this how Bob Iger would react to reporters asking touch questions should he run for office?”
A statement at the newspaper’s website reads: “The annual Holiday Movie Sneaks section published by the Los Angeles Times typically includes features on movies from all major studios, reflecting the diversity of films Hollywood offers during the holidays, one of the busiest box-office periods of the year. This year, Walt Disney Co. studios declined to offer The Times advance screenings, citing what it called unfair coverage of its business ties with Anaheim. The Times will continue to review and cover Disney movies and programs when they are available to the public.”
The story at the heart of the controversy was written by Daniel Miller, who was a journalist at The Hollywood Reporter before joining the L.A. Times as a staff writer.
The gist of Miller’s two-part story is that the company has received generous subsidies from taxpayers, such as “an agreement to shield Disney’s theme parks from any potential entertainment tax for as many as 45 years. In return, Disney is building the Star Wars-themed area at Disneyland and will invest in another major project at its resort in the future.”
Miller also wrote that Disney’s longstanding cozy relationship with Anaheim is deteriorating amid changing demographics, an electorate that doesn’t appreciate the benefits that come with being a neighbor of the iconic theme park and elected officials who seek to rein in the the tax breaks the city doles out.
Late Friday, Disney issued the following statement: “We regularly work with news organizations around the world that we don’t always agree with, but in this instance the L.A. Times showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards. Despite our sharing numerous indisputable facts with the reporter, several editors, and the publisher over many months, the Times moved forward with a biased and inaccurate series, wholly driven by a political agenda — so much so that the Orange County Register referred to the report as ‘a hit piece’ with a ‘seemingly predetermined narrative.’ We’ve had a long relationship with the L.A. Times, and we hope they will adhere to balanced reporting in the future.”
3:38 p.m.: Updated with statement from Disney.
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