'Nightly News' Joins Anti-Wal-Mart Groups in Airing Embarrassing Video
The April 9 â€śNBC Nightly Newsâ€ť 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 â€śjust plain silly.â€ť
â€śFor 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-Martâ€™s internal use, but then a few years ago new management at the retailing giant ended the relationship,â€ť CNBCâ€™s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera said.
â€śNow Flagler claims they own the rights to the video, about 15,000 tapes, and theyâ€™re selling its use for a profit to anti-Wal-Mart groups, lawyers and the media, including CNBC,â€ť Caruso-Cabrera said.
The Wall Street Journal reported April 9 that â€śThe material is proving irresistible to everyone from business historians and documentary filmmakers to plaintiffs [sic] lawyers and union organizers.â€ť
â€śThe 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€ť Wall Street Journal reporter Gary McWilliams wrote. â€śThe 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€ť
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 â€śstimulusâ€ť efforts, as CNBC Media and Technology Editor Dennis Kneale explained on January 29.
â€śA crisis comes and Washington has to show theyâ€™re going to do something and thatâ€™s what theyâ€™ve done here,â€ť Kneale said on CNBCâ€™s â€śThe Call.â€ť â€śAnd, 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, thatâ€™s far better a direct transfer into their hands instead of the going through the government as a middleman. Itâ€™s largely window-dressing. Rebate checks donâ€™t work.â€ť
The media have shown an anti-Wal-Mart tendency in the past, criticizing the companyâ€™s plan to offer generic prescription drugs for $4 and slamming its employee lateness policy, and have given favorable coverage to anti-Wal-Mart movies.