Disney-DeSantis settlement humiliates past pro-Disney headlines: Media ‘as usual’ were wrong

Mainstream media’s open support for Disney in their fight against Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., took on a whole new look after a settlement was reached that appeared to end in DeSantis’ favor.  

After ongoing legal battles, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, a board appointed by DeSantis, voted to approve a settlement deal with Disney on Wednesday. The settlement addressed the two-year long litigation battle over who rightfully controls the formally titled Reedy Creek Improvement District that encompasses the Walt Disney World Resort.

The settlement officially invalidated Disney’s previous attempts to retain governing control over the district and ended all pending litigation in Florida state court.

Since DeSantis’ plan to dissolve Disney’s self-governing status was announced in 2022, many media outlets quickly took sides with the House of Mouse and predicted that DeSantis would be crushed.

Various mainstream media outlets previously claimed that Disney would crush DeSantis in the battle over its self-governing status. (REUTERS/Scott Audette//Marco Bello)


In 2022, several people at MSNBC called DeSantis’ move as “authoritarian” and mocked the governor for attempting to go after the billion-dollar company.

“Later in the program, the governor of Florida’s growing authoritarian rule there and its retaliatory move against one of the biggest corporations in America—all for Disney’s crime of speaking out against discrimination and hatred,” MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace said. 

Wallace spoke with frequent MSNBC guest Jason Johnson, who quipped that there were “so many Disney songs” he wanted to sing “in preparation” for the interview with Wallace. “Let It Go” and “We Don’t Talk about DeSantis” were two of the Disney reprisals that Johnson had in mind.

NBC News chief political analyst Chuck Todd and MSNBC host and former 2020 Biden campaign aide Symone Sanders-Townsend also weighed in on the controversy, with Todd beginning a panel discussion by asserting Republicans “better be careful going after Disney.”

“Oh, my money’s on the Disney lobbyists, honey. My money is on the Disney lobbyists,” Sanders interjected.

ABC’s “The View,” which is owned by Disney, also criticized the Florida governor, and suggested that there was no way DeSantis could beat the company.

“So, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is punishing our parent company, Disney, for speaking out against his so-called Don’t Say Gay law. He revoked Disney’s special status that could cost Florida taxpayers $2 billion. This goes against the GOP’s brand of being business-friendly,” co-host Joy Behar said. “Now, can he win this culture war? Because he’s taking on the mouse, and the mouse is bigger than Ron DeSantis.”

On a “Morning Joe” segment in 2023, co-host Joe Scarborough emphasized that “you can’t beat Disney” with MSNBC contributor Donny Deutsch in agreement.

“You’ve also talked in the past, and I’ve agreed with this that DeSantis, once the stage starts to get bigger, is going to start to wilt a little bit. You can just see he’s got no answers. He’s got no punches. He’s fighting a fight he can’t win and this, to me, is a precursor of him on a bigger, national stage. And he’s just stupid. It’s a stupid, stupid play,” Desutsch said.

Ron Desantis Disney

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has feuded with Disney over the Parental Rights in Education bill, leading to DeSantis’ dissolving the company’s self-governing status. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

During a “CBS Mornings” segment in 2023, co-host Gayle King praised Disney after it canceled an office complex project in Florida, suggesting that DeSantis’ move was a factor.

“Okay. Drop the microphone, Bob Iger. He seems to be saying you want to play hardball, Governor DeSantis, let’s go,” King said.


Throughout 2023, headlines claimed how DeSantis was being outmaneuvered by Disney and would eventually lose his case.

“How Disney just beat Ron DeSantis,” a Vox headline read. A Salon piece was titled, “’Out-negotiated by Mickey Mouse’: DeSantis’ board reveals Disney quietly stripped them of power.” Newsweek reported “Ron DeSantis Suffers Huge Blow in His Battle With Disney.”

“Disney is proving to be the foe that will not die,” Vox wrote.

In a comment to Fox News Digital, DeSantis communications director Bryan Griffin said, “As you know, hours before CFTOD took authority, Disney entered into a last-minute Development Agreement with the former Reedy Creek board to grant itself additional powers and perpetual property rights.”

“The media was quick to celebrate this action as an indisputable win… And, as usual, the media were wrong,” he added.

The dispute between the two began after Disney’s criticism of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act — derided by critics as the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill — prompted the DeSantis administration to revoke the special Disney-controlled tax district that gave the entertainment autonomy over its theme parks in the region.

Following the settlement, however, both Disney and the DeSantis team spoke optimistically about the future.


“We are pleased to put an end to all litigation pending in state court in Florida between Disney and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District,” Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle told FOX Business in a statement. 

“This agreement opens a new chapter of constructive engagement with the new leadership of the district and serves the interests of all parties by enabling significant continued investment and the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs and economic opportunity in the State,” Vahle added.

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis, R, with Disney in the background

Disney has agreed to relinquish control over the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District to the governor-appointed state board. (Fox News)

Griffin told Fox News Digital, “We are glad that Disney has dropped its lawsuits against the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and conceded that their last-minute development agreements are null, void, and unenforceable. No corporation should be its own government. Moving forward, we stand ready to work with Disney and the District to help promote economic growth, family-friendly tourism, and accountable government in Central Florida.”

DeSantis still faces a federal lawsuit from Disney alleging the governor unfairly retaliated against the company for political reasons. However, a federal judge dismissed the case in January, and Disney has agreed to hold off on an appeal until after a new development agreement with the district. 

Fox Business’ Eric Revell and Fox News Digital’s Nikolas Lanum contributed to this report.

This post was originally published on Fox News

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