May 6, 2004 – Editorial, New York Times
Disney's Craven Behavior
Give the Walt Disney Company a gold medal for cowardice for blocking its Miramax division from distributing a film that criticizes President Bush and his family. A company that ought to be championing free expression has instead chosen to censor a documentary that clearly falls within the bounds of acceptable political commentary.
The documentary was prepared by Michael Moore, a controversial filmmaker who likes to skewer the rich and powerful. As described by Jim Rutenberg yesterday in The Times, the film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," links the Bush family with prominent Saudis, including the family of Osama bin Laden. It describes financial ties that go back three decades and explores the role of the government in evacuating relatives of Mr. bin Laden from the United States shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The film was financed by Miramax and was expected to be released this summer.
Mr. Moore's agent said that Michael Eisner, Disney's chief executive, had expressed concern that the film might jeopardize tax breaks granted to Disney for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Jeb Bush is governor. If that is the reason for Disney's move, it would underscore the dangers of allowing huge conglomerates to gobble up diverse media companies.
On the other hand, a senior Disney executive says the real reason is that Disney caters to families of all political stripes and that many of them might be alienated by the film. Those families, of course, would not have to watch the documentary.
It is hard to say which rationale for blocking distribution is more depressing. But it is clear that Disney loves its bottom line more than the freedom of political discourse.
Editorial del New York Times reproducido en el sitio de Michael Moore