Heads continue to roll at The Walt Disney Company following the firing of CEO Bob Chapek. This one, while not unexpected, shows that newly reinstated CEO Bob Iger is serious about getting down to business and cleaning house. Arthur Bochner, Bob Chapek’s Chief of Staff and Speech Writer, has left the company.
Bochner’s dismissal is unsurprising. Chapek was fired largely due to his public statements, which Bochner wrote. In her complaints to Bob Iger and, later, Disney’s Board of Directors, CFO Christine McCarthy cited Chapek’s remarks as a detriment to the company. A CEO needs to be able to win friends and influence people. With Bochner behind the keyboard, Chapek could do neither. McCarthy went so far as to say Chapek “irretrievably lost the room.”
That is not to say Bochner is entirely to blame for the ouster of Chapek. The former CEO did have to approve all of the speeches he gave. He was, however, the man behind all of Chapek’s gaffs and ill-conceived commentary. When Chapek said adults don’t watch animated movies? That was Bochner. When he said the company was doing great despite record losses? Also Bochner. All of Chapek’s statements (and even lack thereof) regarding Florida’s controversial “Parental Rights in Education Act” came from Bochner.
Bochner served as Chapek’s Chief of Staff and Speech Writer from 2020 until this past August, when he was elevated to the position of vice president of strategic communications. His official job description read, “reporting to the Chief Communications Officer, led and set vision for new strategic communications function charged with protecting and enhancing The Walt Disney Company’s reputation with external and internal stakeholders.”
Before moving up to C-level function, Bochner was director of public affairs and executive engagement for Disney Parks Experiences and Products. He first joined Disney in October 2013 as Senior Manager, Executive & Licensing Communications at Disney Consumer Products. He was very much a “Chapek Man,” and in this new Disney era, there is no room for one of those.