MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski piled on to left-wing media attacks against Walmart on June 23, and rejected a fellow journalist’s explanation of how economics works.
The New York Times’ liberal columnist Timothy Egan attacked Walmart’s labor practices on June 19 calling the company America’s “most despised retailer.” That column resonated with Brzezinski who couldn’t resist gushing over Egan’s piece. She read a long portion of it on air. Then, she turned to a panel of four guests, including CNBC co-anchor Brian Sullivan, to get their reactions.
Three of the panelists supported Brzezinski’s call for higher wages. The vast majority of the 7 minute, 28 second segment was devoted to Brzezinski and those guests agreeing with each other and pushing for either Walmart to pay employees more or for Congress to raise the minimum wage. But Sullivan was the outlier who attempted to explain how supply and demand determine wages and how consumers have the power to make a company pay higher wages, without the government’s help.
During Brzezinski’s rant she asked Sullivan for his opinion, but as he attempted to explain that basic rules of supply and demand determine labor costs, Brzezinski rudely spoke over him and rejected his answer.
Sullivan, an award-winning financial journalist, spent 47 seconds reacting, before Brzezinski interrupted him. Sullivan pointed out that with any company, “You only pay what you have to. They obviously have enough people that are willing to work for the company at current wages.”
He even offered a solution, grounded in free market principles. Sullivan said “We don’t need Congress to tell people what to do. The reality is if consumers force Walmart to pay their employees more by choosing to shop there or not shop there, Walmart will react to the consumer.”
But Brzezinski couldn’t contain herself, repeatedly interrupting Sullivan’s with indignant interjections like “Wow,” “Really? Really?” and “Oh please.” She claimed “That just takes out any moral compass” and “That is the way American greed works.”
Brzezinski also got the last word over Sullivan insisting, “No, actually, pay your workers more because that’s the right thing to do.” Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t called on for the rest of the segment.
Egan’s op-ed that Brzezinski touted criticized Walmart for allegedly paying their employees such low wages they are “forcing employees into public assistance with its poverty-wage structure.” He went on to claim these “humiliating wages” force employees to take welfare and even bashed Walmart for organizing a Thanksgiving charity drive in Ohio.
Most of Egan’s assertions are incorrect, as Walmart itself pointed out in a scathing response. Politifact has also exposed the flaws in the claim that Walmart workers depend on public assistance. Sadly, even Walmart’s charity had to be defended, with a company spokesperson telling Today.com that it was intended to combat employees’ “special, critical, unforeseen need[s].”