February 19th, 2014
05:51 AM ET

"Dirty Jobs" Host Defends Walmart Ad

"Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe is known for being an advocate for the working class, but critics are slamming him for narrating a new Walmart ad, citing Walmart's history of outsourcing manufacturing jobs to China, and their practice of paying low wages.

The ad promotes the company's recently announced pledge to spend $250 billion on American-made products over the next ten years and Rowe says he does not regret participating at all.

"It's a PR campaign for the whole notion that if the country doesn't get back to the business of making things, and if our biggest companies don't get back into the business of affirmatively purchasing from American suppliers, then the consumer is not going to have a viable choice."

Rowe adds Walmart's initiative around  American manufacturing parallels the same theme he pushes for with his foundation. 



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soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Ann

    This does NOT make me think better of Wal-Mart. It just makes me think a whole lot less of Mike Rowe. Won't watch his show again. Sometimes the money ain't worth it, dude.

    February 25, 2014 at 9:55 am | Reply
    • Josh Marks

      How can you be offended by hard work? Im 28 with a bachelors degree in business. I love to work, it is fulfilling and rewarding. I dig post holes and cut lumber, maybe what you do isn't worth it "dude"

      March 7, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Reply
  2. Lawrence

    Well personally I do not believe that Mike Rowe deserves any flak for doing his job aimed at having the right intentions.
    He narrated an ad which speaks of doing more to help the people who made this corporation what it is, not killing children or racism. As Mark said above, it is really up to the big wigs at Walmart as to whether or not they genuinely carry out that task.
    I'm sure many CNN commenters/readers would be ultra quick to defend Obama if he were to announce a policy which helps this country out bigtime but was unsuccessful due to that pesky congress and the founding fathers getting in his way.
    Yeah, attack the corporation if you want to spill some of that vitriol.
    Mike is simply doing a job. A job that has no major impact on Walmart's decision making.

    February 24, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  3. Oscar

    He just proved he has no standards, it's all about the money. What a shame.

    February 21, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Reply
    • Ann

      You are so right!

      February 25, 2014 at 9:56 am | Reply
  4. Sepulturaslayer

    Mike is doing what most of us do. Work. His forte is his voice and presence, and if WalMart asks him to voice-over their commercial, and regardless of his quiet political views he accepts, then good for him. He and everybody I know have shopped at WalMart at one time or another, and for those who absolutely refuse to step foot inside their doors, good for you. You must be so privileged to have the resources to shop at Pier One.

    There is no denying that there are controversies surrounding WalMart and the treatment of employees. However, Mike should have no attachments to these controversies, especially since I think he believes (and he stated on live television) that WalMart will back up the claim in the commercial, which many critics were oblivious to. Claims that the 250 billion will be used to retain agriculture jobs in the U.S. are unfounded. Don't be ridiculous. Is there evidence that meat and fresh vegetables generate this kind of revenue, so that WalMart can just skirt their own claim in this widely touted commercial? Don't you think they thought of that? Let's give them a chance, and not hop on the I hate WalMart bandwagon every chance we get.

    Unionizing WalMart employees will only make the situation worse. As the leading retailer in the nation that moves in and destroys small businesses (this is true), imagine how much prices will increase due to doubling or tripling wages. Not thinking about China anymore when you pay more at WalMart for a box of Mac-n-Cheese than you would by going down the street to Kroger, are you? To stay in business, increasing wages means increasing prices, and understandably so. Otherwise they would not be in business for long. Look at Meijer (Michigan), who is union, and their prices are much higher than WalMart's. Quality is better, sure, but the company is not as big. They probably cannot afford to expand as widely as WalMart has due to the increased expenses. It goes on and on.

    I think Mike looks out for the worker, and not the opposite. After all, it is widely recognized that all people are born for one reason. Work. This is undeniable. Procreation is at the top also, but you can find no other behavior that binds us as a species. When you are eligible to work, you do, until you are not allowed to work anymore. Even after this point (retirement age increases every so often, wonder why?) you still want to work. If not for the money, then for the social interaction. Those that choose not to work and take advantage of the system are certainly within their rights to do so. But their opinions do not hold much weight with me, or much of society. I say, let Mike make his own decisions, whatever the outcome

    February 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  5. Thomas Fisher

    Mike Rowe is an actor first. And this is what he does. I work for an oil service company and while I don't agree with everything that goes on in this industry like fracking and subsidies of oil companies , I'm not going to quit my job on principle. However the best part of this story is that we are having this conversation at all. The national narrative is focused on income inequality and jobs to the point that Wal-Mart can no longer avoid the issue but are forced to participate in the narrative.

    February 21, 2014 at 12:10 am | Reply
  6. Tim

    What has this country come to???? An add about the importance of work and a pleadge to spend 250 million in American products causes outrage. All you people really need to revaluaate what this country is supposed to be.

    February 20, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Reply
    • Andrew

      250 BILLION not million....

      February 25, 2014 at 12:37 am | Reply
  7. kent herald

    He is correct – Walmart did take jobs out of the US to China – this started years ago. I would never step foot into a Walmart store. Walmart tactics on setting their own low price or else type of attitude is what ruined the original store that Sam started. Anyone would be a fool to support this store.

    February 20, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Reply
    • Ann

      My thoughts exactly. Thank you for saying it.

      February 25, 2014 at 9:58 am | Reply
  8. David

    It's a PR campaign alright. A campaign for a company that pays its employees too little to feed their families. A campaign for a company that destroys small businesses. A campaign for a company that punishes people who serve their country. A campaign for a company that is not family friendly when it comes to their own workers. There are a lot of companies that need to "buy American" and any one of those would have done just as well without promoting the destruction of the American worker.

    February 20, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Reply
    • Andrew

      idk, my Grandma loves working for Walmart. She works in the Bakery and has for 8 years now. She makes plenty of money for her needs. Her only complaint is they setup a 401(k) for her and enrolled her in insurance. (She is already retired and pays for her own insurance)

      February 25, 2014 at 12:39 am | Reply
  9. Bill

    Walmart has done more for the American Consumer than any other retailer and that is why they are the largest retailer in the world. The American consumer has rightly chosen Walmart instead of over-priced mom and pop stores that are run inefficiently with little to no inventory management. It is a free market, if people felt it was more important to support their local community than big bad corporate America, then they would have shopped that way. What they want is to make their hard earned paycheck go further. We do not buy American made TVs, but we are not buying many Japanese made TVs anymore. Ultimately, being a nation of high end engineers that design high tech equipment and computer programs and outsourcing manual labor to countries with low education levels and low labor costs is good for everyone. There is not a huge conspiracy out there, work hard, get a great education, and sacrifice for the next generation. These are the principals of success and have been for the last 100 years.

    February 20, 2014 at 9:55 am | Reply
  10. Mack

    Hey, its Americans wanting cheaper products, more for their money that drove the companies to setup shop over seas..If we want things to change then we need to pay more and only buy American... vote with your dollar...

    February 20, 2014 at 9:10 am | Reply
    • right on man

      It's an endless downward spiral....Walmart rolls into an area and undercuts the local businesses so badly that jobs are lost and over time leaves Walmart as the only option...

      Thing is they ve started to realize that maybe they ve crippled the the cash cow.

      This ad campaign of theirs is sick and a punch in the face to America.

      February 20, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Reply
      • SchedulerLewis

        When Walmart first came onto the retail scene, their commercials always hit on the "Made In America' label that Walmart portended was in all of their products. Then, there was less publication of American made, and the price cuts that were in effect. Quietly, Walmart was strong arming the small producers that had found a marketing outlet for their products with Walmart into producing for less money. Therefore, the manufacturing ops were shipped to China or wherever they could find cheap labor.
        And now, Walmart is pushing how they're 'helping' America. I try to not shop at Walmart, but like everyone else, there are sometimes I have to pick up something there....so I'm just as bad as everyone else but, IMO, Walmart is one of the most influential players on the global market. They know it. They don't stop. They pay their employees an unlivable wage, and I have no knowledge of the benefits, but the bottom line employees are on Medicaid. Nope, not much of an employer or someone I have hope in to restore the manufacturing base that used to be America.

        February 24, 2014 at 5:57 am |
  11. Sherri

    I loved this commercial...I love to hear that one company is working at building back America.

    February 20, 2014 at 9:04 am | Reply
  12. james fivedy

    some folks will do anything for money, I never suspected this dude would though, too bad...

    February 19, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  13. Lena

    Another guy who turned out to be a complete d-bag. Note to Walmart–you aren't fooling anyone.

    February 19, 2014 at 8:35 pm | Reply
  14. SRSwain

    Well, the least they can do is buy American, given the fact that Wally World has put the American small town business district out of business, permanently. Sam Walton would agree. His heirs may not care, but he would. What's wrong with Mike Rowe doing the voice-over? He's not the guarantor of Wal-Mart's commitment: Their management team is. If they do what they say, great! If they don't, they are liars. Let's don't forget.

    February 19, 2014 at 8:19 pm | Reply
  15. kenbarlow05

    My problem with promoting Walmart is the way they treat employees who are members of the National Guard and Reserves called to duty. Walmart has a poor record of returning those employees to there former job as required by law.

    February 19, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Reply
    • Sherri

      I believe the law is they have to have A JOB for you, not necessarily your former job.

      February 20, 2014 at 9:06 am | Reply
  16. David St. Hubbins

    Mike goes on a pretty good roll there, right until he gets to the flag waving part of his personal get rich scheme. Walmart is the exact opposite of what he is talking about – they have put more US small businesses out of business than any other company you could name. And they shipped almost all of the business to China, Vietnam, etc, etc.

    Get off the high horse, Mike. You had it nailed at "of course I sold out", and you don't owe any apologies for being lucky enough to look and sound good on TV. But if you want to pretend to have a intelligent opinion, hire a writer who knows what he's talking about. You don't.

    February 19, 2014 at 7:47 pm | Reply
    • Sepulturaslayer

      Show me the money. Isn't that what you think every day when you wake up and go to work? Your argument is ludicrous.

      February 21, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Reply
    • Andrew

      People keep saying this, but does it take into account the businesses that would close anyways? I have owned a small business and sold it when I was in college. My dad owns a small business. I know how hard "mom and pop" shops are to keep running. And most fail within 5 years anyways. So did they really make mom and pop shops go out of business that would have gone out of business anyways or did they give stable jobs to consumers. BTW, mom and pop shops do not have to abide by minimum wage laws.... most people don't know that....

      February 25, 2014 at 12:43 am | Reply
  17. Amber

    I want to know where are the jobs for the union electricians.. Many electrician are without work for more than a year. Union companies can pick up government contracts.

    February 19, 2014 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  18. John

    This is not journalism. This is a character assassination of a man who is advocating that Walmart, and Walmart shoppers for that matter, might hopefully purchase goods and products made by Americans and not Chinese inmates. There is NO SUBSTANCE to this "report" other than to purposely blemish the character of this man. A hit piece is put together to display his support of Romney (obviously his fatal error), and then how he climb the ranks of TV by selling stuff at night. All designed to muddy the waters of his character. This is a political payback hit piece. Stripped of all pretenses. What happened to real "investigative journalism", the unbiased story, the fair and intelligent reporter? GONE FOREVER AT CNN that is for certain.

    February 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Reply
    • Sepulturaslayer

      Slow your roll, he got the discussion going again, and in a newsworthy way. I think Mike can be a figurehead or endorser for the American worker, at some point. This IS news. People always want to make more money or have a better quality of life. I do.

      February 21, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Reply
  19. Laurence Bird

    Sadly, those that suspected that Mike had sold out need only watch this video to have that fear confirmed.

    February 19, 2014 at 2:31 pm | Reply
    • Sepulturaslayer

      Yep. Makin' money. Keep watching.

      February 21, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  20. Christopher Trandell

    Where's the whole interview and/or where is the section about career choice and the "blue collar" route? That's the most relevant and interesting and newsworthy segment. Walmart ads and controversy? Who ultimately cares in the long run? sure, it APPEARS to be good copy, but you decided to post: 1) his mock selling of a coffee cup, and 2) free ad space for Walmart. I'm seriously disturbed that CNN is pandering to the online audience (although, who that is is a mystery) instead of treating them to insightful and astute socio-economic commentary.

    Alas, perhaps it is all summed up by Chris Cuomo's reply to Mike Rowe's comment to "show an hour of that" (good news): "If only they (the audience) would watch." Your choice of what is newsworthy for the online audience better belongs on HLN. With so many commercial breaks and now this Walmart plug, CNN=Commercial News Network. Thank you for the choices to spend my money, and now my attention, elsewhere.

    February 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Reply

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