Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

So I've been trying to figure out what's going on at Disney.  I'm still not sure why they are sticking with this right-wing propaganda piece, but it's becoming a little clearer who has been ordering everyone to lie about it.  Zenia Mucha is the EVP of Corporate Communications for Disney Corporation, in charge of all media relations, financial communications, employee communications, and corporate positioning.  She is clearly a big part of how Disney handles sticky corporate situations, including the fights with Miramax over Fahrenheit 911, where she sparred with the Democratic Weinstein's for six months in the press.

What possible incentive could she have for trashing Disney's brand and losing money on an ad-free propaganda piece that helps the conservative movement?  Maybe this incentive.

Governor George Pataki insists he's not thinking about the 2008 presidential race, but his denials seemed a little hard to believe with the sudden reappearance by his side this week of Zenia Mucha, the tough-talking political operative who left Albany in 2001 to become the top flack for Disney's Michael Eisner. As a longtime aide to Senator Al D'Amato known for colorful rows with the press, Mucha was dispatched to shore up Pataki's faltering 1994 campaign against Mario Cuomo and was widely credited with engineering his surprise victory. Her ability to keep Pataki--and everyone else--on message is thought to have helped spur his rise from unknown Peekskill state senator to governor and onto George W. Bush's short list for vice-president in 2000. (Dick Cheney, head of the selection committee, selected himself instead.) When Eisner lured Mucha to the Mouse with an extravagant salary, many of her associates nevertheless were certain she'd return to politics; her reemergence is viewed as a sign the governor is getting serious about 2008. Tight-lipped as ever, Mucha insists she's merely taking a week off from her day job to "help out." But friends say she's planning a return to New York as head of Pataki's national campaign.

Mucha was Eisner's protege, not Iger's.  She came into Disney's empire in 2001, recruited out of New York politics, where she had enormous power as advisor to a very detached Governor Pataki, who nicknamed her the 'the Director of Revenge'.  Before that, she was Communications Director for a very nasty and effective conservative Senator, Al D'Amato.

Eisner was a terrible CEO of the Magic kingdom, and he left behind a real mess.  Wow.

Tags: 911smear, ABC, Blogosphere, Disney, George W. Bush, movement, Path to 9/11, right-wing, Robert Iger, Zenia Mucha (all tags)

Comments

33 Comments

Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Interesting.  There are laws that say that a corporate officer must act in the stockholders' best interests.  If she did this to boost her own political career, at the expense of the stock price, then she could be sued to kingdom come by the stockholders.  Not that that really makes up for this mess.

by joshyelon 2006-09-09 10:54PM | 0 recs
Follow the money

At some point I hope we get the back story on how a right wing cabal was able to secure $40 million in financing from Disney/ABC -- who was pitched; who committed the funding, etc.  Mid-level flunkies don't generally have $40 million sign-off authority.

Additionally, at some point shouldn't paid consultant Tom Kean get some heat for using his position as Chairman of the 9/11 commission for personal financial gain?  Despicable...

by Steve in Sacto 2006-09-09 10:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Follow the money

This is where legal suits by Albright Berger Clinton could be very beneficial.  A lot could come out in discovery, enough to destroy the reputation of ABC/Disney even if the suits ultimately were unsuccessful.

That material could then provide the justification for revoking their broadcast license.

Caveat: I don't even play a lawyer on ABC.  I don't know if there could be non-disclosure conditions on material (e.g. emails) recovered via discovery.

by Taylor26 2006-09-10 09:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

This might explain the response I got from these people last week when I sent an email to complain about the so called "docudrama." In a rather nice way, I suggested they run a disclaimer before and after informing the viewer that it was fictional.

I was informed, through a form email, that the company was not open to unsolicited suggestions before they went on to say that my email would be forwarded to their legal department for review. Wow ... this was so unsubtle it took me a couple of minutes to realize they were threatening me.

Rather amazing, that I should warrant such a reaction .... after all, I'm just a nobody who happens to be a democratic party member.

by bamabarrron 2006-09-09 11:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Disney and Zenia are dogs, there is no doubt. But this response about referring unsolicited suggestions to the legal department is a standard formula in the TV business, not a threat, subtle or unsubtle.

It's just normal entertainment industry paranoia about being sued for plagiarism when viewers send in ideas that later show up in scripts.

by mfuchs 2006-09-10 06:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

The blurb about not accepting material is just a form letter.  ABC sends it out as well.  They get people sending them story ideas and then potentially get sued later on when a story happens to be similar to one sent them on some random email.  Its legal protection and it wasnt directed directly at you.  In fact they do the same sort of think with resumes.  you cant send them a resume in hopes of finding a job there.  You have to respond directly to job offers through hed hunting firms.  I seriously doubt you got more than a form letter.  If you did get more they still likely have that blurb as their signature to go out on all correspondence.  

by jrflorida 2006-09-10 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

thanks mfuchs and jrflorida for setting me straight on the response i received. i guess when you are in such a sleazzy business one would have to be careful to paranoid.

still all in all ... i must say, i wouldnt invite any of these people over for dinner nor will i be sending them xmas cards.  LMAO

by bamabarrron 2006-09-10 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

History Channel

If you've been watching the History Channel lately you'll notice that they are on board with the concept of highlighting Pataki.

by goplies 2006-09-10 12:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Haven't been because they seem to only ever be on board with militaristic and conservative crap history. Switch to PBS.

by adamterando 2006-09-10 05:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Not surprising considering Disney is a partial owner of A&E Networks (with NBC Universal and Hearst Corp) which owns the History Channel.

by littlesky 2006-09-10 10:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Great Digging Matt, TPM should pick this up.

by adamterando 2006-09-10 05:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Good scoop Matt.  That sure explains an awful lot.

Now we just need to track the money and prove the FEC violations.

Saving the world is such hard work.  Appreciate all you do.

by Urban Pirate 2006-09-10 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Matt wrote: "Eisner was a terrible CEO of the Magic kingdom, and he left behind a real mess."

I disagree. Eisner was a very nasty person, to be sure, but he was a good CEO. His last few years were terrible and hurt the company relative to its peak. However, despite this stumble at the end, he left the company much stronger than when he joined. Disney was in danger of disappearing when Eisner came along, recall. The stock price (adjusted for splits, etc.) when Eisner became CEO in 1985 was $1.58; when he was ousted in 2005, it was $23.88. The peak price during his tenure was $41--if he has quit in April 2000, he would have been revered as the man who increased the value of the stock 25-fold. If he had left in 1995, he would be revered as the man who rebuilt Disney's artistic reputation. Because he was too vain to leave, his legacy is justifiably tainted. Still, anyone who held Disney stock from 1985 has little to complain about.

His legacy, as personified by Mucha, is quite nasty, though.

by RWB 2006-09-10 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha ( / )

Actually I have to disagree with you.  I worked there in the early eighties, In my opinion one of the things Eisner did was open up the Disney libary to video tape.  Prior to Eisner, Walt wanted the movies to be re released every five years.  Now I do agree that opening the libary was a good thing, there were other, more dispicable things he did to the artists.  Disney used to match stock for the artists, you bought one they gave you one.  Eisner stopped that, for Union Employes, Disney was a union studio!!!! The stock was only for the ceo crowd then.
     No Eisner was not so great for the artists, who built the company.  When I quit because their idea of a raise was an insult, they told me I had a job for life, I was leaving that behind.  Bullshit, the artists who were my peers at that time found themselves out of work, heck even the guy that told me that was let go.  And to top it off, they're setting up a studio in INDIA!!!!  It's just another case of the CEO locusts raping companies for their own greed.
They don't even give artists residuals for the millions they make for the mouse house.
     And this Path To Lies, as secured there path to the dark side.  Boycot this magic (feudal  state) kingdom.
www.whatnowtoons.com

by what now toons 2006-09-12 07:44PM | 0 recs
Speaking of bedfellows

Zenia Mucha's boyfriend, Doug Rutnik, is a lobbyist who also happens to be the father of the Democratic candidate for Congress in New York's 20th District, Kirsten Gillibrand:

LINK:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/1/2/2 21559/2578

I have been dubious of Gillibrand's candidacy (both in terms of her commitment to Democratic ideals, and her chances of winning) -- though I happen to know her personally and greatly dislike the policies of her opponent, John Sweeney.

Perhaps those Democrats who have been boosting Gillibrand here and elsewhere could let us know what their candidate is doing to bring pressure to bear upon Ms. Mucha in this appalling situation.

by Hudson 2006-09-10 07:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Speaking of bedfellows

This is really not fair.  You can't visit the sins of the father upon the child who has built a strong record in her right.  She has no control over what her father does nor can she control Zenia Mucha.  I don't think her candidacy has anything to do with whether or not Disney airs this film.

by John Mills 2006-09-10 08:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Speaking of bedfellows

There is no relationship between Kirsten Gillibrand and Zenia Mucha.

There was a relationship between Ms. Mucha and Kirsten's father Doug Rutnik. That relationship no longer exists and was not, to the best of my knowledge, ever shared by Kirsten Gillibrand.

Kirsten Gillibrand's job is to defeat John Sweeney not George Pataki. George Pataki does a good enough job of defeating himself. Even Zenia Mucha can't win the Presidency for him.

If you think Pataki bringing back his attack dog is appalling then perhaps you should do something about it?

by Andrew C White 2006-09-10 09:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Mucha... reports to Iger, and not vice versa, right?

This corporate stuff is so complicated.

by Eli 2006-09-10 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Mucha reported to Pataki also but that didn't stop a lot of people from calling her "Governor Mucha."

by Andrew C White 2006-09-10 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

That still doesn't excuse Mitchell for his failure to kill this smear.

by Alice Marshall 2006-09-10 08:30AM | 0 recs
Hear hear!!

George Mitchell: The dog that has rolled over and whimpered in the night....

An insufferable pedant would suggest that someone edit the apostrophe out of the plural "Weinsteins" in the main text. I hate those people.

by BlueinColorado 2006-09-10 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

What is it with GOP women looking as if they've just devoured an infant?

by Tod Westlake 2006-09-10 08:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha


Looks can be deceiving sometimes.

Then again, sometimes they're spot on target.

by Califlander 2006-09-10 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Good post Matt.  One quibble - protege is not the right word for her relationship to Michael Eisner.  He hired after she was a seasoned PR person.  She is really Al D'Amato's protege since he trained and groomed her.

by John Mills 2006-09-10 08:43AM | 0 recs
The Importance of Individuals

I've been waiting for this kind of research to show up.  As much as Disney and other large corporations have an institutional interest in keeping their paid lapdogs in power, something like this takes personal initiative.  There had to be someone in the Disney establishment who had a strong motivation to smear the Clinton administration, and by implication, all Democrats.

I don't know if Zenia Mucha is it (or at least all of it), but now that the rock has been lifted just a bit to view the worms underneath, the rock should be lifted higher and a bright light aimed at all the invertebrates living there.

Let the Zenia Muchas become known to the world.  Let the incestuous ties between Disney and the Republicans and be discussed widely.  

These people are most effective when they remain anonymous.  The power of the blogs undermines that secrecy.

by knownothing 2006-09-10 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

What's going on at Disney?  Same old.  Same old.

Think of all the racial stereotypes in their movies.  Think of the family-run, independent day care their lawyers sued for painting Disney characters on the wall.  Think about why we have copyrights that are older than some redwood trees because Disney is terrified somebody will create a porno Steamboat Willie.  Think about why Disneyfication as a synonym for vacuous postmodern nihilism.

The Disney Corporation has been caustic to society for decades.  Why shouldn't they have another rabid barracuda for a CEO?

by smchris 2006-09-10 09:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

After living in Los Angeles and belonging to a rather large writers society, I never heard one positive remark from locals or writers about working for Disney. They have a terrible reputation as an employer. Normally, you can find someone who can speak well of a company, but the Disney people, ex and current, that I knew hated the Mouse with a passion burning hotter than the sun. Disney employees who love working there must exist, but, of the hundreds of Mouse workers I met, I never met one of them. The reason why so many hated it: Working for people like this Menia flack. You just know she has a daily "No wire coathangers!" moment.

by Aquaria 2006-09-10 11:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Too bad her mother didn't use a wire coathanger.

by antiHyde 2006-09-10 02:03PM | 0 recs
Ad-free?

an ad-free propaganda piece

according to tristero at digby's:

I assume someone will collect and publish the list of commercials for show 2 - show 1 being broadcast without ads.

is that true? make sure no one flips channels when ABC is slandering clinton. give plenty of opportunity to miss the bush parts (as in the preznit's address)

i'm sure those advertisers (if they exist) will be well known by tuesday.

by benjoya 2006-09-10 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

The reason why Path to 9/11 won't have any commercials.

1. The sponsors are afraid the people will boycott their products and they don't want their name associated with this story full of lies.  ABC probably couldn't get anyone to sign up.

Fools that they weren't(SPONSORS THAT IS)

I wish these big corporations would stop thinking that we don't catch on to their devious ways.

by fkay10 2006-09-10 12:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha
Pinocchio caught lying The ABC 9-11 pack of lies,  and now the lies continue, oh yeah, we will edit the thing for America, but still put out the same crap for the rest of the world?!!  Give me a break, they just want to get this out as a pure propaganda piece.  What's next, the dvd offered as the un edited European version?  Their real slimeballs.
     Tonight we shall see how much editing ABC actually has done, however as a filmmaker I am well aware that story points woven into the story are hard to fully remove, and some stinky residue always seeps through, and in this case, the falsification of history, that seepage would be despicable.
     History should not be rewritten to please the political party that holds power, this is the first step towards an Orwellian world.
     I am very disappointed that the Disney Company, a unique American company would give up it's truly American values to support a partisan lie. The effect on the Disney brand could be devastating.                                             To see my latest cartoon on this topic, Karl Rove has a part in my toon, go to my website and check it out.
 http://www.whatnowtoons.com/#058
by what now toons 2006-09-10 12:07PM | 0 recs
If the FCC won't fine up, then we should

I keep wondering about the economics of this awful two-part docudrama.  I've read that it cost Disney $40 mil. to make.  On top of that are some promotional costs.  If they're not selling any ads, how are they making any money?  

Assuming they're doing this at a significant loss, and must have known that for quite awhile, then why the hell are they going ahead with it, especially if these are already sunk costs?  From a financial perspective, it seems like they could probably make more money by running reruns of some popular show and fill the ad slots with revenue generating ads.

Given the generally bad reviews and assertions of blatant falsehoods by many knowledgeable people, including some Republicans--and the pullback by Scholastic--any claim they try to make related to providing a "public service" will hold absolutely no water.  There's also the possibility that they may end up getting sued, which would be nice, but perhaps not very likely.

All this gives credence to the suspicion expressed by some that this is a political favor to the Bush Administration, presumably for some return favor in the reasonably near future.  Can anyone suggest another realistic motive?

Does anyone remember what legislation is pending that would be a priority for Disney?  Presumably it'd be related to copyright-type issues, but I can't remember the details.  There may also be some station-ownership, must-carry or some other issues up before the FCC.  All this is worth some digging and documentation.

I also second the suggestion made by others that its worth doing some more investigating of how, when and why this project got greenlighted, funded and researched, and ties to the right-wingnut community.  And pushing for on the record comments from George Mitchell and Lee Hamilton also seems worth it.  Continued heat on Kean, in whatever ways we can come up with, also seems warranted.  He has sold out his colleagues on the 9/11 Commission and I hope that some of them will call him on it and do it loud and clear.

I also like the idea of an ongoing boycott of Disney content/vacation sites, products, etc (I'd also include all Disney affiliates that carry the program, even if not Disney-owned).

It would be nice if there was a site where we could register as boycotters, including the actions we'll take (or stop taking).  If we did that, you could probably estimate a value of all these actions (or stopped actions) and add it up to estimate the grassroots-generated penalty Disney will end up paying for abusing its broadcast license.  Consider it a fine that the current FCC would never levy, even though they seem eager to do so for things like off-color language.

One last thought...I've read that ABC will be interrupting the show Monday night for a 15-minute speech by Bush.  It's hard to imagine how that's gonna play. It seems downright bizarre and potentially very Orwellian to me.  Here you have a fabricated and distorted anti-Dem fantasy version of 9/11-related events, to be interrupted by a 9/11-related speech by Bush, less than two months before an election that could result in his administration's many failures and probable crimes being investigated for the first time.  Its a bit too surreal for my imagination, but I'd guess that Karl Rove is very focused on it right now.

by mitchipd 2006-09-10 01:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Mickey Mouse's Karl Rove, Zenia Mucha

Matt,

The link above the box links to http://www.thehotbutton.com/today/hot.bu tton/2004_thb/041004_mon.html. Where does the quote in the box come from?

by kkrone02139 2006-09-11 05:26AM | 0 recs

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