LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) Chief Executive Bob Iger on Wednesday defended his seat on President Trump’s business advisory council as an opportunity to voice opinions that will benefit the company and its shareholders.
Facing questions regarding his inclusion on the council at the Disney’s annual shareholders meeting, the chief executive said he had no plans to step down from the group, as some critics have urged him to do.
In response to one question, Iger said he did not believe his membership “supports or endorses” Trump’s policies.
Another speaker, who identified himself as a member of the Colorado People’s Alliance, said Iger’s decision to remain on the council suggests Disney “is tacitly endorsing Trump’s agenda.”
Iger, however, referenced a song from the Broadway musical “Hamilton” called “The Room Where It Happens,” saying it was important to have input in a forum where policies are being shaped.
“I think there is an opportunity, when you are in the room where it happens, to express opinions I believe would be in the best interest of the company and its shareholders,” he said at meeting held in Denver.
Iger said he would at times express views “likely to be adversarial” to the president.
Uber Technologies Inc Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick quit Trump’s advisory group in February amid pressure from activists and employees who opposed the administration’s immigration policies.
Iger said immigration had helped Disney in many ways, citing the issue as an example of something he could address on the Trump advisory council.
The United States and Disney have “benefited from an open and fair immigration policy,” Iger said. “I don’t happen to believe policies that single people out by religion are fair and just.”
Iger skipped the first meeting of Trump’s advisory council in February to attend a previously scheduled board meeting.
He fielded several questions on political topics at the meeting with another speaker suggesting that Disney-owned ABC News holds a liberal political bias, a charge Iger vigorously rejected.
“They work very, very hard to present news in a fair way,” Iger said, adding that he did not agree the media was “an enemy of the people,” as Trump has written on Twitter.
Iger said there were times the Obama administration disliked coverage by ABC News.
“I am proud of the fact news can be an adversary,” Iger said.
Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Bernard Orr