In 2015, the Obama administration was working hard to warn U.S. citizens and the world about the dangers of climate change.
One effort involved using characters from the wildly popular Disney cartoon, “Frozen,” to teach a Hollywood-enamored American public about those dangers. The problem was, even as an Obama official teased Disney’ cooperation, Disney was not on board.
The Hill obtained a number of emails through a Freedom of Information Act Request. In those emails, they uncovered an exchange in which a State Department official under former President Barack Hussein Obama, Admiral Robert Papp, was called a liar by a Disney executive over the issue.
Papp, who was appointed U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic in 2014, spoke to Disney twice about the possibility of letting the department use Olaf the Snowman, as well as other characters from the film, to warn the public about the dangers of global warming.
Disney’s leadership appeared to be frustrated by Papp, who gave an interview indicating the department was working with Disney to arrange for the climate change association. But that wasn’t true: Disney had already turned them down (in the Fall of 2014).
From the Hill:
“We felt Admiral Papp misrepresented the informational meeting that was held at Disney in October of last year,” a Disney employee wrote to State.
The name of the Disney official writing the email has been redacted, though Paul Baribault, the senior vice president of marketing for Disney, had met with Papp in November 2014. Other emails in the chain obtained by The Hill are signed by a “Paul.”
“It is frustrating to see these types of comments continue,” the Disney employee wrote to Erin Robertson, a State public affairs officer who worked for Papp, in the March 12, 2015, email.
Robertson emailed back to the Disney official that a reporter at a Washington, D.C., event had asked about the issue.
Robertson said the question “put the Admiral on the spot” and “it would have been very difficult for him to avoid answering.”
“It’s too bad he felt the need to say that he’s continuing discussions with Disney when that simply hasn’t been the case,” the [Disney] employee said, adding that what he said “is a mischaracterization of the situation” and “happens to be untrue.”
The Disney employee asked that Papp clarify the issue if he’s asked again.
During a January 2015 event in Norway, as representative of the Arctic, Papp praised “Frozen” for teaching children about the region but said he felt Disney officials could do more to raise awareness about climate change.
“I said, ‘You’ve taught an entire generation about the Arctic,’” Papp said. “Unfortunately, the Arctic that you’ve taught them about is a fantasy kingdom in Norway where everything is nice. What we really need to do is educate the American youth about the plight of the polar bear, about the thawing tundra, about Alaskan villages that run the risk of falling into the sea because of the lack of sea ice protecting their shores.”
Papp acknowledged that the media company had explained that the Disney “culture” centered around telling stories that “project optimism and have happy endings.” But Papp suggested he was still negotiating with the company.
“We’re regrouping on our storyline and we still have Disney engaged, but there’s more yet to come there,” Papp said at the time.
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