Disney Communications Chief Geoff Morrell Resigns After Three Months

Zinger Key Points
  • Kristina Schake, a former Obama and Biden aide, will inherit Morrell's duties.
  • CEO Bob Chapek conspicuously avoided praising Morrell or wishing him good luck elsewhere.

Geoff Morrell, the Walt Disney Co.’s DIS chief corporate affairs officer who crafted the company’s public response to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, has left the company after three months on the job.

What Happened: Morrell had previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and press secretary for the Department of Defense during the George W. Bush administration and was executive vice president for communications and advocacy at the energy company BP BP before taking on the newly-created position at Disney.

Morrell initially sought to avoid having the company comment directly on the controversial Florida legislation, which prohibits the teaching of sexual identity and orientation classes to schoolchildren in kindergarten through third grade. But Disney CEO Bob Chapek came under criticism from many LGBTQ members of his workforce for trying to stay neutral on the matter – Chapek eventually came out against the legislation, earning the wrath of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who denounced the company as “woke” and coordinated another piece of legislation that dismantled Disney’s special tax status through its Reedy Creek Improvement District.

See Also: DeSantis Says Disney Got A 'Wake-Up Call' By Losing Reedy Creek Special Status

What Happened Next: CNBC obtained a copy of Morrell’s resignation letter, where he stated, “After three months in this new role, it has become clear to me that for a number of reasons it is not the right fit. After talking this over with [Disney CEO] Bob [Chapek], I have decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities.”

Deadline obtained an internal memo from Chapek to the Disney staff where he announced Morrell’s departure, while conspicuously not praising his work or wishing him good luck in future endeavors.

“Fortunately, the strength and experience of our existing leadership team – including relatively new all-star hires – means there is no shortage of talent to guide our reputation-driving functions,” Chapek wrote.

Kristina Schake, a former aide within the Obama and Biden administrations and deputy communications director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign who was hired earlier this month as executive vice president of global communications, assumed Morrell’s responsibilities. Chapek also named General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez as being in charge of the company’s government relations and global public policy office, while Jenny Cohen, executive vice president for corporate social responsibility, will now report directly to Chapek.

“I am incredibly confident in this team, and look forward to working with them and all of our leadership to set Disney’s course for the next 100 years of extraordinary entertainment and experiences,” Chapek concluded.

Photo: Geoff Morrell during his tenure in the Bush administration, courtesy of the Department of Defense

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Posted In: EntertainmentNewsGeneralBob ChapekdisneyFloridaGeoff MorrellRon DeSantisWalt Disney Co.
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