Within a day of Michelle Obama and Wal-Mart's joint announcement of the company's Healthy Foods Initiative, conservative media figures accused the Obama administration of threatening Wal-Mart to get the company to offer healthier foods.
Wal-Mart Partners With Michelle Obama To Announce Healthy Foods Initiative
First Lady Joined Wal-Mart Executives In Unveiling Initiative. From the Washington Post:
First lady Michelle Obama joined Wal-Mart executives at a Southeast Washington community center Thursday morning to announce a campaign by the low-priced retail giant to offer more healthful foods and push its suppliers to do the same.
Wal-Mart, which recently announced plans to open its first stores in the District, unveiled the healthful food initiative at THEARC, a community center that offers a nutritious eating program to residents from surrounding neighborhoods.
Officials said Walmart will make thousands of the packaged food items that it sells more healthful and affordable by 2015; build more stores in underserved areas and increase its charitable donations to nutrition programs. The plan includes reducing sodium and sugar in some foods, lowering prices on produce and developing a logo so customers can more easily identify healthful items. [Washington Post, 1/20/11]
Conservative Media Accuse Obama Administration Of Threatening Wal-Mart
Limbaugh: Michelle Obama “Bullied” Wal-Mart. From Rush Limbaugh's radio show:
During the campaign when Obama's out there ripping Wal-Mart to shreds, his wife shows up there the other day and has somehow bullied or pressured Wal-Mart, which already sells things for low prices, into selling healthy food at lower prices during - when Michelle Obama shows up, and she and her husband are now partners with Wal-Mart, when in 2000, 2008, this guy joined the unions in trying to put them out of business.
So now, Mooch-elle Obama, the First Lady, is now in charge of what you eat at Wal-Mart and what it costs. She just shows up. Last I looked, Wal-Mart's a private sector company. First Lady can go in there all she wants. She can even call a press conference, but she does so, and why do you think Wal-Mart's listening to this? Don't get mad at Wal-Mart, that's not the point here. What would you do? This bunch strolls in your front door. This bunch. This regime had a representative high-up, strolls in your front door, demands a microphone, press conference, and demands you lower your - what are you going to do? Most people are going to cave, it's not worth the trouble. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/21/11]
Napolitano Likened Michelle Obama's Presence At Wal-Mart Announcement To Extortion. Fox Business host Andrew Napolitano said:
At a press conference today with the fit, glamorous, and health-conscious First Lady Michelle Obama, the largest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart, announced that it will cut both sugar and fat from many of its food items. Alright, that sounds well and good, but - was this really a business decision? Does Wal-Mart really think that by selling supposedly healthier food, it will maximize profits for its shareholders? Or is this an effort to keep the White House, the food police, and maybe even the labor unions off its back?
Catherine to you first, can't you really see right through this? This is sort of like Joe Biden saying to BP, give us the $20 billion or we'll take it? The president, through his wife of all people, says to Wal-Mart, “Start selling what we want you to sell, or we'll make it illegal for you to sell the other stuff.” [Fox Business, Freedom Watch, 1/20/11]
Asman Endorsed Claim That Wal-Mart's Initiative is “Protection Money To The Thugocracy.” Fox Business host David Asman said:
Michelle Obama cheering on Wal-Mart executives in their new push to promote healthy eating - things like cheaper fruits and veggies - well Scoreboard viewers smell something fishy. Steve says, quote, “Wal-Mart pays protection money to the thugocracy. Yes, Wal-Mart's politically sensitive moves may yield profit, but Wal-Mart has to constantly improve its image as a pre-emptive defense against leftists who hate their success, and hate the company's resistance to labor unions.” You may be right, Mike. [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 1/20/11]