CNN Says Bachmann ‘Insults’ Wal-Mart for Calling N. Korea ‘Wal-Mart of Missile Delivery Systems'

After presidential candidate Michele Bachmann referred to North Korea as “the Wal-Mart of missile delivery systems,” CNN correspondent Brian Todd hyped the possible political backlash she could suffer for using Wal-Mart’s name in such a manner.

The CNN headline blared “Bachmann Insults Wal-Mart” and Todd whacked the GOP candidate with a critical segment on her making an “odd Wal-Mart reference.”

“[W]hen you compare that regime to an all-American brand that employs hundreds of thousands of people in the heartland, you might have a political problem,” Todd said of Bachmann’s comment. 

Todd also noted that it’s “not hard to sound tough and blunt when you’re talking about North Korea.” Perhaps he forgot about the very founder of CNN, Ted Turner, who in 2005 dismissed the threat of brutality in North Korea when he said dictator Kim Jong-il looked pretty normal and claimed he “didn’t see any brutality” when he visited there.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on December 21 at 5:50 p.m. EST, is as follows:

WOLF BLITZER: Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann prides herself as being tough and blunt. But her new attempt to draw a line in the sand against North Korea’s new leader potentially may have backfired a little bit. Brian Todd has got this story for us. What happened?

BRIAN TODD: Well Wolf, not hard to sound tough and blunt when you’re talking about North Korea. But when you compare that regime to an all-American brand that employs hundreds of thousands of people in the heartland, you might have a political problem.

(Video Clip)

[HEADLINE: “Bachmann Insults Wal-Mart: Remark about North Korea may have backfired”]


Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-Minn.), GOP presidential candidate: (giving campaign speech)

TODD: (voice-over) She’s counting on a big push in Iowa to get back into the GOP race. Getting picked up on the daily news cycle may be part of that – and that means coming up with clever pithy soundbites. So here’s what Michele Bachmann came up with this week.

BACHMANN: With the death of Kim Jong-il, we know that North Korea it has effectively acted as the Wal-Mart of missile delivery systems –

TODD: It wasn’t Bachmann’s first use of an odd Wal-Mart reference to make a political point. Back in July, 2008 on the House floor, she said this about the group Planned Parenthood.

BACHMANN: They are the Wal-Mart of big abortion. They’re the Big Box retailer.

TODD: We called and e-mailed Wal-Mart several times, seeking its reaction to Bachmann’s comments. The retail discount giant never responded. Republican strategist John Feehery doesn’t think Bachmann’s slamming Wal-Mart intentionally, but he calls the comments stupid.

JOHN FEEHERY, Republican strategist: When you’re trying to craft a clever soundbite, you need to be careful that you don’t unintentionally alienate somebody. It seems that what Bachmann is doing is alienating the important part of her political base, which is the Wal-Mart voter.

TODD: Not so, says the Bachmann campaign. A spokeswoman says “She was referring to the fact that North Korea is distributing weapons as efficiently and cost-effective as Walmart.”

Wal-Mart’s not Bachmann’s only corporate metaphor. In April, she said this about LensCrafters and Planned Parenthood, which sometimes helps women get abortions.

BACHMANN: The Executive Director of Planned Parenthood in Illinois said they want to become the LensCrafter of big abortion in Illinois.

TODDL Actually, the Planned Parenthood CEO had really said in a print interview “I like to think of Planned Parenthood as the LensCrafters of family planning.” He was talking about making planning services more accessible. But you’d think Bachmann knew that, because she had said this in that House floor speech in 2008.

BACHMANN: -- and he said I’d like to think of Planned Parenthood as the LensCrafters of family planning.

(End Video Clip)

TODD: When she mis-translated that this past April, LensCrafters hit back at Bachmann, telling a newspaper she was using the companies name without knowledge or permission. A company official said LensCrafters contacted Bachmann’s office and asked that she stop making those comparisons. A Bachmann spokeswoman said she would stop. No word on whether she’s going to stop using the name Wal-Mart in her speeches.

BLITZER: There’s always a balance you’ve got to have in attacking corporate America, if you will.

TODD: That’s right, I mean you’ve got to be careful about that. You might just want to attack corporate America as the over-arching enemy of the people. Just say corporate America, maybe avoid talking about specific brands, because that could alienate a lot of people.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014