'Wal-Mart Had Nothing To Do With It'

J$P Instant Transcript! Byron York reveals that Robert "Xanadu" Greenwald's latest video is just as dishonest as his last one.

From Special Report with Brit Hume, November 15 2005:

BRIT HUME [FOX NEWS]: There's a new movie out today, called Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, to which no less an icon than Sen Ted Kennedy lent his prestige here in Washington. The film in part shows what Wal-Mart allegedly did to such main street enterprises as H&H Hardware of Middlefield, Ohio. Here's a sample.

[VIDEO - DON HUNTER] It started in a little one-room building that had a full basement. We did all the plumbing in the basement, but the upstairs retail area was very small. And we were there for a year and a half to two years, then we moved on to a larger store in a shopping center. Spent several years there, and proceeded in 1992, built this facility here.
[VIDEO - H&H Closes]

HUME: Pretty powerful stuff. A fine family business shut down by Wal-Mart's arrival. Byron York of National Review has been looking into the film. Byron, what did you find out?

BYRON YORK [NATIONAL REVIEW]: Well the story of H&H Hardware didn't actually happen precisely as it's depicted in the picture. The store did close, but it closed three months before Wal-Mart actually opened its doors. And I talked to Don Hunter, the man you saw in the film there, who founded H&H in 1962. And he said that the coming of Wal-Mart had nothing to do with the decision to close the store. And other people I talked to in Middlefield said that H&H--

HUME: Where is Middlefield, by the way? I mean I know it's in Ohio.

YORK: It's a small rural town in Amish country in Ohio. And other people I talked to said H&H had been troubled for several years. There was an economic downturn in Ohio. It suffered from that. In addition, there were some management, poor decisions made by management. And for those reasons it went out of business. But--

HUME: And then three months later Wal-Mart finally opens.

YORK: And then three months later Wal-Mart opens its doors.

HUME: And the guy says, the guy says to you that Wal-Mart's coming and the anticipation of its opening didn't affect his--

YORK: He said very specifically, and I quote him in an upcoming article, there was no connection. He doesn't like Wal-Mart. He says a number of very negative things about Wal-Mart, and he believes it does destroy business around the country. But he says in his case there was no connection.

HUME: Now obviously the film goes on at some length; we showed a small slice of it. What are the other allegations in the film?

YORK: Well, some of the allegations are that Wal-Mart has actually, drives down wages in the areas in which stores open up. They cited a number of studies that were funded in part by labor unions. Now Wal-Mart is--

HUME: What's the deal between Wal-Mart and labor unions, by the way?

YORK: Well there's a bitter fight going on, especially after Wal-Mart moved into the grocery store business. It began fighting with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. So there's a lot of fighting back and forth. Robert Greenwald, by the way, the director of this film, says that no union money was used to make the film, although there are a number of union groups that are promoting, promoting the film. Anyway, there is a real disagreement about the effect of Wal-Mart on wages, and the disagreement is among those who say it forces down wages in areas where it moves in, and those who say that by contributing lower prices, even if wages do go down, the net purchasing power of people actually goes up. There's some difference of opinion on that, that's not presented in the picture. It's a rather one-sided depiction.

HUME: So--I should mention, by the way, in the interests of full disclosure, that Robert Greenwald was also the director of an earlier so-called documentary called Outfoxed, which was a sharp critique of Fox News.

YORK: That's right. It was.

HUME: I haven't actually seen the film but I've heard some things about it, but we needn't go into that at the moment. How does this Wal-Mart film fit into this emergence of Wal-Mart as a political issue, and the efforts that Wal-Mart is now making to fight back?

YORK: It has become a very big issue in the last few years. Right after the election, moveon.org, the internet activist group, had a kind of a poll of its members saying what are the big issues we should pursue. Now here again, this is November, December 2004. And the winners were electoral reform, media reform, and Wal-Mart. I mean, this has become a very very big issue on the left, and it's been taken up by some of the unions. And Wal-Mart has fought back very very energetically. They have set up what they call the War Room about this movie, and the latest, to fight this latest wave.

HUME: And the War Room is located where?

YORK: Well, they have hired consultants all over the place, including New York. But of course Wal-Mart is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas.

HUME: And I assume this is all, they can all talk with each other.

YORK: Oh yeah. And part of this is because Wal-Mart is just so big. For example, there's a part in the movie that criticizes Wal-Mart for allegedly not offering enough security for its customers in the parking lots, and said there are more attacks on customers in parking lots than there are in other stores. A spokesman from Wal-Mart told me that the company has one hundred million customer visits in the United States every week. Now some people visit obviously more than once. But that's a third of the United States population. That's far, far more than any other company, and yes, indeed, there have been more instances of crime in those parking lots than in some smaller companies.

HUME: Byron York, always informative, good to have you. Thank you very much.

YORK: Good to be here.

posted: Tue - November 15, 2005 at 11:55 PM       j$p  send