Walmart Annotated Reply Takes Apart NYT Columnist's Claims

Tuesday, 24 Jun 2014 10:23 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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Walmart Store's vice president for corporate communications issued a scathing response to a New York Times columnist who claimed the retailer is "a net drain on taxpayers" who pays its employees "humiliating wages."

The Daily Caller reported that instead of responding with an article of its own, however, Walmart's David Tovar responded to Thursday's Times column by Timothy Egan, titled "The Corporate Daddy," by taking out his red pen.

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To correct the record, he annotated the original article, writing a note at the top that said, "Thanks for sharing your first draft. Below are a few thoughts to ensure something inaccurate doesn’t get published. Hope this helps."


Egan's main claim, that "Walmart is a net drain on taxpayers, forcing employees into public assistance with its poverty-wage structure," is rebutted with an annotation that says "We are the largest tax payer in America. Can we see your math?"

The Times opinionator made the claim that "the average Walmart superstore cost taxpayers $904,000 a year in various subsidies, or more than $5,000 per employee."

Well aware of the study to which Egan alluded, Tovar informed him that the numbers he cited have been debunked by Politifact, which rated the claim "mostly false."

Moving on to argue specifics about employees' wages, Egan took issue with Walmart's claim that the average full-time store worker makes $12. He claimed that "these numbers are skewed by higher pay for management. The average 'associate' at Walmart makes $8.81 an hour."

Tovin told Egan he's mistaken, and that the average associate wage of $12.91 "Only includes associates paid hourly."

From there, he went on to make several other salient notes, responding to Egan's criticism with facts about the corporation's successful efforts to recruit veterans, its foundation's charity record, and its 72-percent favorability rating among consumers.

As James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal editorial board pointed out in his own daily column, Egan's easily-debunked article likely hurt his own cause, and betrayed his and other liberals' bias toward big corporations, especially those frequently viewed as déclassé.

Concluding his column, Taranto wrote, "it's unreasonable to scapegoat law-abiding employers, as Egan does, for offering those at the low end of the economic scale the opportunity to earn money by working."

On Tuesday, Egan offered a rebuttal to Walmart's annotations in an email to Business Insider. He wrote, "No matter the exact [wage] figure, there’s no dispute that Walmart’s business model forces thousands of hard-working people to look for outside help just to get by," echoing a concern explored exhaustively in several documentary films and books.

According to a February report from The New York Observer, some of The New York Times' own employees have expressed concern that the paper's Op-Ed pages have become "reflexively liberal, utterly predictable, usually poorly written and totally ineffectual."

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