Diary

Big Box Retailers Try Their Hand at Fake News

A lobbying outfit funded heavily by Walmart is touting a new poll that’s about as credible as the tag-line for a satirical TV talk show in the 1989 cult classic UHF: “Lesbian Nazi Hookers Abducted by UFOs and Forced Into Weight Loss Programs!”

The poll, from the “Retail Industry Leaders Association,” (RILA) purports to show Trump voters supporting onerous price controls on the companies that process credit card payments, a policy that conveniently would pad the pockets of the companies bankrolling the poll.
Lately, the “chattering class” is manning the ramparts over “fake news” circulating on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Some “fake news,” like the Pope’s supposed Trump endorsement (didn’t happen – which anyone who knows anything about Pope Francis could guess), are truly fabricated. Then there’s the regular stuff written from a conservative worldview that liberals want to ban because they disagree with it.
But there’s another kind of misinformation that’s been with us since long before Mark Zuckerberg lived in a Harvard dorm: the push poll.

A push poll isn’t designed to measure public opinion, it’s designed to sway it, and the RILA survey is a classic example.

According to the organization’s press release, the poll found 76% of “voters believe big banks got a bailout while missions of Americans were left to suffer.”

That may seem like a large majority, but it pales in comparison to the 83% of Americans who oppose soulless corporate chains destroying mom and pop stores (while kittens are left to suffer).
Similarly, the 55% of Americans who “oppose swipe fees” are dwarfed by the 96.3% of Americans who oppose “paying for things.”

If you’re wondering why the retail industry is suddenly trying to claim the mantle of “Trump voters” in such a transparently cartoonish way, here’s the back story.

For decades, the retail industry has relied on Democratic allies in Washington to tilt the playing field in its favor. Two Democrats, in particular: Hillary Clinton and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
In part because of organized labor’s long-running mau-mau campaign against it, many people don’t realize the extent to which Walmart is an extension of the Clinton universe.

Walmart founder Sam Walton’s heirs donated $714,000 to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election cycle, and the store’s “charitable organization” has given millions more to the Clinton Foundation, according to a fascinating report from Sean Higgins at the Washington Examiner.

In the 1980s, it was the late Walton himself who appointed Hillary, then the Arkansas first lady, to the company’s board. Clinton was picked as a token woman board member to answer griping about a lack of diversity.

Since then, Walmart has been a frequent landing pad for Clintonites, who enjoyed lucrative sinecures there in between their stints in government making our country a worse place to live.
Durbin, one of the most craven servants to special interests in a town where the competition is fierce, and has formed an especially close-knit relationship with the retail sector.

The Illinois senator personally and indefatigably led the push to set price controls on processing credit card payments, tirelessly twisting his colleagues’ arms until squeaked by in a controversial 2010 vote – at the height of Democrats’ power in the Obama years.

For a lobbyist, it might have seemed like a good idea to have put almost all your eggs in the Clinton and Durbin baskets, at least through Nov. 7. But the morning after the election, Walmart’s hired guns on K Street woke up to the reality of GOP control over both chambers of Congress and the presidency, essentially their worst case scenario.

Trump and his supporters certainly don’t like special rules for banks, that much is true. But they’re not against banks, like, in general. They’re against special rules for some people while the rest of us have to live by the normal ones.

My view is all the hubbub about “fake news” on Facebook is misguided. The American people seem to be calling shenanigans on politicians, corporations and anyone else better than they ever have before. My guess is that laughable efforts to claim Trump voters’ support from a bunch of Democrats are more likely to end in political pain than payoff.