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Networks Dump Coal on Wal-Marts Christmas

     Christmas is a time of giving and TV news reporters certainly took that opportunity to give it to Wal-Mart. Following a jury ruling that went against the worlds largest retailer, journalists put the company on the naughty list as CNNs Rick Sanchez called it.

     The day after the verdict, network morning shows relied on the lawyer from the group suing Wal-Mart, a retail expert who has been critical of the company and even a clip from the anti-Wal-Mart movie. None of the shows made the connection between the ongoing attacks against the retailer, the couple dozen workplace lawsuits and the organized union campaign against Wal-Mart.

     Sanchez kicked off the American Morning report by saying Wal-Mart again? They cant step out of it. While Sanchezs introduction begged the question, Why? CNN and all four other networks failed to give an answer.

     The obvious answer is that the retailer isnt unionized and there is an international union push to change that. According to the December 5 USA Today, In just the past year, two union-backed groups have formed with the shared mission of challenging the megaretailer's business, labor, environmental and social standards.

     The article mentioned two such groups: WakeUpWalMart.com, which is funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers International union, and Wal-Mart Watch, run by Service Employees International Union President Andrew Stern. None of the morning shows made the tie-in.

     WakeUpWalMart.com claims it is about Americans joining together in common purpose to change Wal-Mart. There is only one force powerful enough to change the #1 Fortune 500 company in the world the American people. But the organization was also behind screenings of the anti-Wal-Mart movie, numerous PR stunts against Wal-Mart and union activists have been pushing many of the suits against the company.

     Peter Alexander of NBCs Today, treated the various attacks like they were separate instead of a concerted operation. The world's biggest public company has also become one of its biggest targets, facing recent lawsuits for benefits, claims of discrimination and this new critical documentary, he said. Alexander added that, as a result, Wal-Mart's public image has suffered.

     Today included a clip of the anti-Wal-Mart film, Wal-Mart: The Cost of Low Price. None of the morning shows mentioned the pro-Wal-Mart film that came out at about the same time, continuing a trend documented in a previous Business & Media Institute report.

     ABCs Good Morning America reporter Taina Hernandez showed the danger of using experts, saying, analysts say the superstore has taken some short cuts. She then brought on industry analyst Burt Flickinger who criticized the company for the lawsuits against it. Forty major lawsuits may not be wrong, and in an industry thats typically non-litigious Wal-Mart leads the league in litigation or lawsuits. So where theres smoke, theres often fire.

     According to The New York Times, Flickinger is a retail consultant who has followed the company for years. But, while following Wal-Mart, Flickinger has also criticized the firm on several occasions including knocking its security policies and comparing corporate operations to the actions of Chinese dictator Mao Zedong. Flickinger was also quoted in an article on the WakeUpWalMart.com Web site urging the company to pay its workers more, one of the things the unions want.

     In that May 4, 2005, article entitled Can't Wal-Mart, a Retail Behemoth, Pay More? Flickinger said, By paying higher wages, Wal-Mart will make its employees happier and will reduce turnover. A lot of its new workers, for instance, don't know where to stock things. Higher wages will mean more productivity per person, and that should help raise profits.

     Flickinger also compared Wal-Mart to one of the deadliest dictators in history during his April 4, 2004, appearance on CBS Evening News, Wal-Mart's really effected what we call a Mao Zedong strategy that was used in Communist China, conquer the countryside first and leave the cities for last.