Big Media Wal-Mart Attack On Hillary

Update:  The New York Times is trying to claim that their article is published on Sunday, May 20, 2007.   For the record the article was published early on the morning of Saturday, May 19, 2007.  We guess they rather deceive their readers as to the actual date of publication.  The New York Times is trying to deflect from the implications of their attack article and the L.A. Times attack article being published against the same candidate, on the same topic, on the same day.   We know better. 

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We wrote about Hillary and Wal-Mart on May 12, 2007 in an article called Hillary, Iran, Wal-Mart, Murdoch. The article discussed the importance of talking with opponents (like Iran) and trying to influence the actions of people you might disagree with (like Rupert Murdoch and Wal-Mart). We also pointed out the hypocrisy of Hillary opponents and the Nutroots who want the United States to talk with enemies in Iraq and Iran but go crazy when discussions are held with domestic corporations and business leaders by Democrats like Hillary and Al Gore.

Today, the L.A. Times wrote a big attack piece on Hillary concerning Wal-Mart. The L.A. Times piece is echoed today in another big attack article against Hillary regarding Wal-Mart in the New York Times. Imagine, two big attack pieces on the same topic on the same day against the same candidate. We won’t speculate here about the coordination of this silly attack or the agenda driven intent behind the articles. We will say that both articles lack substance and actually make Hillary look better than ever. The articles are comical in that they contradict each other and the facts, especially regarding labor issues. Let’s examine these two articles.

The L.A. Times attack article complains that Hillary worked on gender equality issues and environmental issues but alleges disregard for labor issues. The L.A. Times then declares that this will hurt her with labor unions as she runs for president.

The first point to remember is that Hillary was appointed to the Board of Wal-Mart in 1986 because Sam Walton, the owner of Wal-Mart, was under pressure by his wife and daughter to finally, for the first time ever, appoint a woman to the Board. Hillary was “Assigned to work on the diversity issue that preoccupied Walton’s wife and daughter, Clinton joined an advisory committee that Walton had assigned to draft recommendations on pay parity and hiring women and minorities as executives.”

The fact that Hillary was on the diversity committee is the reason why she concentrated on diversity issues.

Hillary was 39 years old when she was appointed to the Wal-Mart Board. The board was mostly composed of older, white, Republican, southern, males, who lived up to the stereotype of the breed. We are informed that Robert Dedman “often made politically incorrect jokes, prompting Clinton to “roll her eyes.” Board member Robert K. Rhoads recalls that “She brought a pragmatic understanding of how life works,” and that “She was a real savvy board member and one smart lawyer.” “On the board, Clinton impressed other outside directors brought in by Walton. “She stayed pretty much in the background. But she was an advocate for women, quietly and effectively,” said Toys “R” Us founder Charles Lazarus, who became a director in 1984.”

The L.A. Times idiotically dredges up Hillary’s 2006 Senate opponent, some nameless “critics” and a lawyer involved in a current class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart to trash her on union issues. Let’s recall Hillary was a Wal-Mart director in the 1980s. The class action lawsuit is pending today. We are also told that “Several labor officials”, nameless of course, have said that Clinton will be in trouble with unions because of Wal-Mart’s union busting activities.

However, the most pertinent labor advocates when it comes to Wal-Mart issues, Wal-Mart Watch’s spokesman Nu Wexler makes this declaration: “I suspect that unions are far more interested in her plan for universal healthcare than her board service 15 years ago.” So much for the Hillary is in trouble with labor unions nonsense in this article.

The bulk of the article is innuendo disguised as facts about how much money Hillary was paid and all sorts of creative writing exercises about motivation.

The article finally expires with a quote from Paul Higham a former Wal-Mart executive who served with Hillary on her Wal-Mart environmental issues committee. Higham writes that Hillary “played a critical role in getting Wal-Mart to press its suppliers to use packaging that was easily recycled. The group also spurred more recycling programs and architectural alterations that saved energy in many stores”. When Hillary’s excellent leadership was no longer on the Wal-Mart board, we are told the environmental committee expired. But clearly her leadership on these issues mattered.

The New York Times article on Hillary and Wal-Mart is also composed mostly of atmospherics and creative writing about motivation. This article provides us with a picture of 39 year old Hillary at a board meeting. Hillary we are informed was hired to the 15 member Wal-Mart board in 1986 because of pressure from Sam Walton’s wife Helen. The article alleges that Hillary’s Wal-Mart board membership is somehow being covered up even as it informs as that

“Fellow board members and company executives, who have not spoken publicly about her role at Wal-Mart, say Mrs. Clinton used her position to champion personal causes, like the need for more women in management and a comprehensive environmental program, despite being Wal-Mart’s only female director, the youngest and arguably the least experienced in business.”

The New York Times then, Surprise!, makes the identical accusation as the L.A. Times: “On other topics, like Wal-Mart’s vehement anti-unionism, for example, she was largely silent, they said.”

The rest of the article is a redredge of the L.A. Times article.

The New York Times article however is less subtle than the L.A. Times. The source for both articles, and it was clearly one and the same source feeding this drivel to both papers on both coasts, got the article desired. The aim is to portray Hillary as “running” away from her board membership. The implication is that there is something to hide. This is the New York Times at its worse, and no, we will be kind and not mention Judith Miller and assorted other mishaps including the breathless Whitewater coverage that amounted to absolutely zero.

The New York Times article agenda can be summed up with this sentence: “But disentangling herself from the company is harder than it may seem.” This is all innuendo. It implies wrongdoing. The opposite is true.

Is Hillary running away from Wal-Mart and fearful of unions attacking her? Apparently not. According to this agenda soaked, silly article the opposite is true:

“several months ago, Mrs. Clinton helped broker a secret meeting between a top Wal-Mart executive and former Democratic operative, Leslie Dach, and leaders of the retailer’s longtime adversary at the United Food and Commercial Workers union,”

and, we are informed:

“The goal of the meeting was to tamp down the rancor between the company and the union, which has set up a group, WakeUpWalMart.com, that has harshly criticized the chain and leaked embarrassing internal documents to the news media, though an accord has not yet been reached.”

We are told by the New York Times:

“In Mrs. Clinton’s complex relationship with Wal-Mart, there are echoes of the familiar themes that have defined much of her career: the trailblazing woman unafraid of challenging the men around her; the idealist pushing for complicated, at times expensive, reforms; and the political pragmatist, willing to accept policies she did not agree with to achieve her ends.

“Did Hillary like all of Wal-Mart practices? No,” said Garry Mauro, a longtime friend and supporter of the Clintons who sat on the Wal-Mart Environmental Advisory Board with Mrs. Clinton in the late 1980s and worked with her on George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign.

“But,” Mr. Mauro added, “was Wal-Mart a better company, with better practices, because Hillary was on the board? Yes.”

With these words the purpose of both articles becomes clear. Notice the ugly innuendo – she wants complicated and expensive reforms but then she caves. They will keep pushing this storyline throughout the campaign. They will run this storyline even more when Hillary is the Democratic Party nominee. This was the strong opening shot. We must fight this.

The facts are that Hillary worked on gender equality and environmental issues while at Wal-Mart. The world of the 1980s is exemplified by the statistics of the time.

“Early in her tenure, she pressed for information about the number of women in Wal-Mart’s management, worrying aloud that the company’s hiring practices might be discriminatory.

The data she received would have been troubling: by 1985, there was not a single woman among the company’s top 42 officers, according to “In Sam We Trust,” the 1998 book about Wal-Mart by Bob Ortega.

John E. Tate, who served as a director with Mrs. Clinton from 1988 to 1992, recalled that by her third board meeting Mrs. Clinton had announced “that you can expect me to push on issues for women. You know that. I have a reputation of trying to improve the status of women generally, and I will do it here.”

Hillary tried to improve the status of women and she did. This does not mean she established gender equality but she helped, she improved things bit by bit.

“By the late 1990s, after Mrs. Clinton had left the board, Wal-Mart had added a second female director, but the number of women in senior management remained paltry, according to company records. (Today, 23 percent of Wal-Mart’s top 300 corporate officers are women, but the company is fighting a class-action lawsuit claiming sex discrimination filed on behalf of 1.6 million current and former female employees.)”

Same goes for her work on environmental issues at Wal-Mart. Hillary did not achieve perfection, but she was a leader. Hillary improved things:

Wal-Mart executives put much of the program into place. In 1993, for example, they opened an experimental “eco-store” in Kansas, with dozens of skylights and wooden beams from forests that had not been clear cut.

One executive derided it as “Hillary’s store” because it was more expensive to build than the average Wal-Mart, but several of its features, like the skylights that cut energy bills by reducing the need for artificial lighting, were widely copied across the industry.

We were on the leading edge of something that is being mandated now,” said Bill Fields, the head of merchandise at Wal-Mart in the early 1990s who worked closely with Mrs. Clinton on the environmental project.

Labor unions know Hillary is a leader. As the New York Times points out she is working with the United Food and Commercial Workers union to improve conditions for workers at Wal-Mart.

This past Friday, May 18, 2007 Dolores Huerta endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. Dolores Huerta, the co-founder and President Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America will serve as a co-chair for the campaign.

Throughout her life Hillary has been a strong leader, working for issues that make a difference in every family’s life, like education, health care and good paying jobs,” said Huerta. “I believe she is the best qualified candidate and the one that’s ready to put our country back on track.”

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