This morning's Today show made a gift of millions in free advertising for a soon-to-released Wal-Mart-bashing documentary: "The High Cost of Low Prices."
Robert Greenwald, the film's producer, has already established his Michael Moore-wannabe credentials with "Outfoxed," a documentary critical of Rupert Murdoch and Fox News.
Greenwald should be the last to accuse others of paying low wages. The producer of the anti-Wal-Mart film is on the prowl for unpaid ["volunteer"] field producers! See Greenwald's web site: http://www.robertgreenwald.org/
Today dramatically portrayed the substance of the film's arguments against Wal-Mart: that it forces small competitors out of business, and pays low wages.
But Wal-Mart was never given the chance to respond in kind. Today failed to air a single substantive response from the Wal-Mart, emphasizing only that it was a huge company undertaking an expensive "media blitz" to fight the film.
We were thus treated to a clip from the documentary in which a courtly older gentleman with a soft southern accent sadly explained how the arrival of Wal-Mart forced him out of business. Wal-Mart was never given the chance to explain that a market's winners and losers are in fact chosen by consumers, who vote with their pocketbooks as to who offers the best prices, products and service.
Next, NBC reporter Dawn Fratangelo aired an interview with Rosetta Brown, a black lady who was shown opening what looked to be a can of tuna fish for her family sitting at the kitchen table. Fratangelo stated that even after eight years as a Wal-Mart employee, Brown is forced to rely on welfare - food stamps and Medicaid.
Someone [Today didn't say who it was] had arranged a screening of the documentary for Ms. Brown, who offered this conclusion:
"It just says to me that Wal-Mart doesn't care nothing about nothing but greed, for them."
Just in case the point was lost on us, Fratangelo explained that "Rosetta applauds the documentary."
Once again, Wal-Mart was denied the chance to respond. One wonders: if Wal-Mart is so greedy and pays such unfairly low wages, why haven't Ms. Brown and fellow Wal-Mart associates taken jobs with other, less-grasping, employers?
Perhaps NBC has an opening.
Finkelstein has degrees from Cornell, SUNY Buffalo and Harvard. He lives in Ithaca, NY where he hosts "Right Angle," a local political talk TV show. He is currently seeking a publisher for his anti-terrorism thriller, "Albergue Olimpico."