The latest example of someone trying to refute a report without actually refuting the key piece of it comes from Emilio Estevez. On Friday, Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva reported that Estevez (seen above in 2019 at a red carpet premiere of “The Public”) was out of Season 2 of the Disney+ series The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers after his representatives refused to provide assurances that he would meet the show’s requirement of a COVID-19 vaccination. Andreeva’s piece also mentioned that “sources close to Estevez indicate that creative differences may have played a role in his exit.” Well, Estevez has now issued a lengthy response to Andreeva’s piece, which Andreeva published in full.
That statement includes Estevez revealing he contracted COVID-19 in March 2020 and battled long-haul effects from it last spring and summer (including while shooting the series). And it has him say “My exit from the show was due to a myriad of creative differences – any other narrative is false.” But it does not have him saying he promised to meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, which was the key thrust of the original story (and of other stories confirming it, such as Yahoo’s Taryn Ryder’s “Yahoo Entertainment can confirm that the actor won’t return for the second season of the Disney+ show as he will not comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate“). Here are some quotes from Estevez’s statement:
I am not anti-vaxx. Full stop.
I take this pandemic very seriously, and I am often teased about my continued following of the safety protocols and my abundance of caution.
I want to address what transpired and clear up some falsehoods which appeared in an article regarding my decision to depart “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.”
In the final analysis, this was nothing more than a good old fashioned contract dispute and not, as some would believe an anti-vaccine position.
…The quoted “anonymous sources,” producers and show runners all know the truth.
Simply put, I am anti-bully.
My exit from the show was due to a myriad of creative differences – any other narrative is false.
As Andreeva notes, though, “Estevez does not address whether his team assured the studio that the actor would comply with the new mandate.” And that’s really what’s at the core of this. Reasons for any falling-out or parting of ways can be complicated, and can be seen differently from different sides, and perhaps Estevez truly attributes this to “creative differences” and a “contract dispute.” But there’s a binary question here of “Are you vaccinated, or will you get vaccinated?”, which needed a “Yes” answer to stay on this particular show.
In order for the central claim of that first article to be a “falsehood,” Estevez would have had to spell out that he either was vaccinated or was going to get vaccinated. And the second one carries less credence; anyone can say “Yes, I would have gotten vaccinated and returned if not for the creative differences,” and there’s no way to disprove it. But he doesn’t even go as far as that. He offers nothing on his vaccination status beyond “I am not anti-vaxx” and “Simply put, I am anti-bully.” And while he’s certainly entitled to choose not to get a vaccine, if that is indeed his choice, companies that have a vaccine mandate for their shows (and most of their other positions) can choose not to not work with him as a result.
Of course, this might just be poor statement-crafting from Estevez rather than an actual refusal to get vaccinated. (He and his team issued this three days after the initial article, though, so they certainly had plenty of time to draw it up.) And if he was vaccinated, then there would be “falsehoods” in those initial articles to clear up. But he hasn’t pointed out any “falsehoods” to date. And his vague “I am anti-bully” doesn’t mean a whole lot without going into more detail on what he means by bullying. This statement’s nowhere near the level of claims against vaccines that, say, Aaron Rodgers has made, but it really doesn’t prove any error in the initial reporting.
[Deadline; photo from Tony Tribble/Film 16/The Cincinnati Enquirer via USA Today Sports]