“We have the worst record in the modern world when it comes to gun violence and gun deaths,” the long-time CEO said at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in Los Angeles. “Something’s gotta be done about it.”
Iger said several dozen Disney employees were at the Las Vegas concert where a gunman killed more than 50 people, injuring hundreds more. Two of the Disney workers were shot and injured, and one of them was killed. “It’s been a very trying time, not just for us but for so many people,” said Iger. “There’s a lot of mourning going on right now at Disneyland.”
While President Donald Trump and his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, have said that now is not the time to discuss gun control, Iger insisted that talking about it now isn’t “politicizing” the issue. “I don’t think this is politics,” said Iger. “I think this is a huge crisis for our country.”
The CEO also touched on the recent controversy in the sports world, where many players have taken a knee to protest racism and police brutality during the singing of the national anthem. “We get outraged when athletes don’t stand for the national anthem,” said Iger. “But we don’t get outraged about this [the mass shooting in Las Vegas].”
In Iger’s view, both athletes and ESPN commentators often feel a need to speak out, especially on the topic of racism. As for ESPN, a Disney division, he said commentators have “license” to speak out on issues that are meaningful to them, though they are certainly not “charged” with being political.
“Sports is an integral part of our culture and our society and our economy. It’s not just in a bubble where people put on uniforms and throw a ball around,” said Iger. “It’s a part of our culture.”
According to the Disney head, he did get involved in the recent Jemele Hill Tweet-cident at ESPN. (The sports commentator called President Trump a “white supremacist” in a tweet; President Trump responded that she should be fired.) “We had to take the context into account, and the context included what was going on in America,” said Iger, who ultimately decided not to fire Hill. “I’ve never experienced prejudice or racism. We needed to take into account what Jemele and other people at ESPN were feeling at this time.”