Former “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe says he’s become the target of death threats after narrating a Wal-Mart commercial about investing in American manufacturing.
The ad first aired more than two weeks ago during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. In it, Rowe talks about the importance of reinvesting in American manufacturing while images of factories flash across the screen.
“It’s time to get back to what America does best,” he says in the ad, “because work is a beautiful thing.” Toward the end, Wal-Mart announces its pledge to purchase $US250 billion of American-made products over the next 10 years.
For that 60-second spot, Rowe has faced a fiery backlash in the press and on social media.
“I’m back,” Rowe wrote in a 1500-word Facebook update on the situation Monday. “Three days of press, five hours of sleep, four bottles of wine, a speech, a job offer, 5,000 form letters, and a couple of good-natured death threats. All because of a commercial that I narrated about American manufacturing paid for by Walmart. Press tours are fun!”
A Gawker article called him a “shill for the oppressors” and suggested that he lost his Ford Motor Company endorsement deal over the ordeal. He says his office has also been “carpet-bombed” with 5,048 form letters from the labour group Jobs With Justice “imploring me to sit down with ‘real Walmart employees’ and listen to stories about how unfairly they have been treated.”
“‘Shill for the Oppressors!'” Is that not fantastic?” Rowe wrote. “I should make new business cards. I’m sure [Gawker’s Matt Hardigree’s] a swell guy, but unfortunately, he’s so eager to report on a story that doesn’t exist he’s resorted to a career in fiction.”
Rowe also blasted a CBS report that links to the Jobs with Justice letter writing campaign.
“Naturally, [CBS News reporter Aimee Picchi] points this out to her readers, and even provides a helpful link to the Jobs with Justice Letter Writing Campaign, so that other objective citizens might continue to overwhelm my modest staff with additional expressions of carbon-copied concern. (Thanks Aimee!)” he wrote.
Critics claim Rowe’s involvement in the ad is an implicit vote of support for the so-called “poverty wages” Wal-Mart pays to employees.
Rowe says the ad does not make him a spokesperson for the company and that it simply means he supports American manufacturing.
“Honestly Kevin, who gives a crap about your feelings toward Walmart?” Rowe wrote to one of his critics on Facebook. “[D]ozens of American factories are going to reopen all over the country. Millions of dollars will pour straight into local economies, and hundreds of thousands of new manufacturing positions will need to be filled. That’s a massive undertaking packed with enormous challenges, and I want to help.”
“Isn’t this the kind of initiative we can all get behind?” he added.
Here’s the ad that everyone is so upset over:
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