'Nightly News' Joins Anti-Wal-Mart Groups in Airing Embarrassing Video

     One would think Wal-Mart might catch a break from the media, thanks to its recent environmental initiatives and in-store price cuts aimed at helping consumers. But that’s not the case.


     The April 9 “NBC Nightly News” aired footage from a 1995 Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) executive meeting that shows some executives dressed in drag. It was part of a gag that a company spokesman told ABC News on April 9 was executives being “just plain silly.”


     But now, after being fired by Wal-Mart in 2006, the video production company that taped the meeting is selling the footage to groups that want to exploit it, including the media.


     “For nearly 30 years, the company called Flagler Productions says they had a deal, an oral agreement, no written contract, to tape the meetings for Wal-Mart’s internal use, but then a few years ago new management at the retailing giant ended the relationship,” CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera said.


     “Now Flagler claims they own the rights to the video, about 15,000 tapes, and they’re selling its use for a profit to anti-Wal-Mart groups, lawyers and the media, including CNBC,” Caruso-Cabrera said.


     The Wall Street Journal reported April 9 that “The material is proving irresistible to everyone from business historians and documentary filmmakers to plaintiffs [sic] lawyers and union organizers.”


     “The video library might have remained under wraps if a new Wal-Mart executive hadn't decided to hire another company to stage a musical production for its 2006 stockholders’ meeting,” Wall Street Journal reporter Gary McWilliams wrote. “The decision sharply curbed Flagler's role. Wal-Mart dumped Flagler altogether as a producer in late 2006, nine days after Mr. Flagler sold the company for an undisclosed sum to two employees, Mary Lyn Villanueva and Gregory A. Pierce.”


     The Journal also reported the footage was being sold to two anti-Wal-Mart labor unions – the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Service Employees International Union.


     The Wal-Mart attacks come at a time when the company is attempting to change the momentum of the economy through the private sector, in contrast to taxpayer-funded “stimulus” efforts, as CNBC Media and Technology Editor Dennis Kneale explained on January 29.


      “A crisis comes and Washington has to show they’re going to do something and that’s what they’ve done here,” Kneale said on CNBC’s “The Call.” “And, it is largely a political gesture and it will have nowhere near the instant financial impact of what Wal-Mart did today. They said they will cut prices 30 percent to help stimulate the economy and Wal-Mart has a million employees and stores all over the place. And, that’s far better a direct transfer into their hands instead of the going through the government as a middleman. It’s largely window-dressing. Rebate checks don’t work.”


     The media have shown an anti-Wal-Mart tendency in the past, criticizing the company’s plan to offer generic prescription drugs for $4 and slamming its employee lateness policy, and have given favorable coverage to anti-Wal-Mart movies.