By Dawn Chmielewski
(Reuters) - Walt Disney Co on Tuesday named former Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell to the newly created position of chief corporate affairs officer, overseeing corporate communications, government relations and global public policy.
Morrell is currently the executive vice-president of communications and advocacy at oil and gas company BP, and is credited with helping repair the company's reputation after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon industrial disaster. He assumes his new role at Disney on Jan. 24, joining the media company as it navigates the disruptions of a global pandemic and the streaming media revolution.
"Just as we have re-imagined how we bring our creativity to the world with new platforms, we must also continually evolve how we tell the story of our great company," CEO Bob Chapek wrote in a memo Tuesday to Disney staff announcing Morrell's appointment.
Morrell will also hold the title of Senior Executive Vice President, replacing Zenia Mucha who will be retiring from Disney shortly after the year-end.
The appointment marks a homecoming for Morrell, who worked as a desk assistant at Disney-owned ABC News in New York and Washington, D.C., while attending college and graduate school. He began his reporting career in 1992, covering the presidential campaign of Bill Clinton, and later re-joined ABC News as White House correspondent from 2004 to 2007.
From 2007 to 2011, Morrell served as Pentagon press secretary and as the chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and the U.S. military. He was appointed by President George W. Bush and continued to serve in that role under President Barack Obama.
Morrell joins Disney in a period of transition for the entertainment giant.
Bob Iger, who stepped down as Disney's CEO in 2020 after 15 years in the role, will leave the company by the end of this month. The Mouse House also recently tapped Susan Arnold to become its first woman chair.
Several other Disney executives have announced plans to leave by the end of 2021, including Walt Disney Studios head Alan Horn, president and chief creative officer of Disney Branded Television, Gary Marsh, and company general counsel Alan Braverman.
(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. And Mark Potter)