'Nightly News' Joins Anti-Wal-Mart Groups in Airing Embarrassing Video
The April 9 âNBC Nightly Newsâ aired footage from a 1995 Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) executive meeting that shows some executives dressed in drag. It was part of a gag that a company spokesman told ABC News on April 9 was executives being âjust plain silly.â
âFor nearly 30 years, the company called Flagler Productions says they had a deal, an oral agreement, no written contract, to tape the meetings for Wal-Martâs internal use, but then a few years ago new management at the retailing giant ended the relationship,â CNBCâs Michelle Caruso-Cabrera said.
âNow Flagler claims they own the rights to the video, about 15,000 tapes, and theyâre selling its use for a profit to anti-Wal-Mart groups, lawyers and the media, including CNBC,â Caruso-Cabrera said.
The Wall Street Journal reported April 9 that âThe material is proving irresistible to everyone from business historians and documentary filmmakers to plaintiffs [sic] lawyers and union organizers.â
âThe video library might have remained under wraps if a new Wal-Mart executive hadn't decided to hire another company to stage a musical production for its 2006 stockholdersâ meeting,â Wall Street Journal reporter Gary McWilliams wrote. âThe decision sharply curbed Flagler's role. Wal-Mart dumped Flagler altogether as a producer in late 2006, nine days after Mr. Flagler sold the company for an undisclosed sum to two employees, Mary Lyn Villanueva and Gregory A. Pierce.â
The Journal also reported the footage was being sold to two anti-Wal-Mart labor unions â the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Service Employees International Union.
The Wal-Mart attacks come at a time when the company is attempting to change the momentum of the economy through the private sector, in contrast to taxpayer-funded âstimulusâ efforts, as CNBC Media and Technology Editor Dennis Kneale explained on January 29.
âA crisis comes and Washington has to show theyâre going to do something and thatâs what theyâve done here,â Kneale said on CNBCâs âThe Call.â âAnd, it is largely a political gesture and it will have nowhere near the instant financial impact of what Wal-Mart did today. They said they will cut prices 30 percent to help stimulate the economy and Wal-Mart has a million employees and stores all over the place. And, thatâs far better a direct transfer into their hands instead of the going through the government as a middleman. Itâs largely window-dressing. Rebate checks donât work.â
The media have shown an anti-Wal-Mart tendency in the past, criticizing the companyâs plan to offer generic prescription drugs for $4 and slamming its employee lateness policy, and have given favorable coverage to anti-Wal-Mart movies.