CNN Paddles Whole Foods CEO for Calling ObamaCare 'Fascism'

CNN's Carol Costello scolded Whole Foods CEO John Mackey for calling ObamaCare "fascism" on Friday. She also questioned why he was entering the ObamaCare debate at all and lectured him that many of his customers would disagree with his opposition to ObamaCare.

"And you realize when you say 'fascism' it brings up Nazi Germany and all sorts of things. And we really want that kind language out of our public forum at the moment, don't we?" Costello admonished Mackey.

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann decried President Bush as a fascist back in 2008, but CNN made no mention of the controversy then. Yet only a day after Mackey termed ObamaCare "fascism," the network scolded him while he was on to talk about his latest book.

And as she did with NRA president David Keane, Costello dug through Facebook to find a nasty comment against her guest:

"Some of your customers though did express outrage at your use of that word. It was on the Whole Foods Facebook page. One person said, and I quote, 'Of course, he regrets his word choice. It affects his bottom line. I do not believe this apology any more than I believe Mitt Romney's attempt to get out from under his 47 percent comments.' Care to respond to that customer?"

Costello challenged Mackey why he was even debating ObamaCare, even though he provides health insurance to employees. "But why inject yourself into the debate over ObamaCare in the first place?" she asked. He responded that "these changes in the laws greatly affect us. It's raising our costs. It's making it more difficult to provide the insurance at affordable rates to our – to our team members."

And Costello lectured Mackey on what his customers would think of what he said. "I think, though, that many of your customers probably wouldn't agree with you since, I don't know, you kind of run a store that appeals to the more liberal in America in some ways.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 18 on CNN Newsroom at 9:45 p.m. EST, is as follows:

CAROL COSTELLO: Before we get into the book and it sounds like a great book, I'd like to address something you said about ObamaCare, the President's health care plan. You initially labeled the Health Care Act a form of socialism, and then on NPR you called ObamaCare "fascism." Why did you decide to change the terminology?

JOHN MACKEY, Whole Foods CEO: Well clearly that was a bad choice of words. But traditionally socialism means that the means of production are run by the government and in fascism the means of production are still owned by private individuals but they're controlled by the government. And what's happening is, is our health care plan is moving – our health care system is moving away from free enterprise capitalism towards greater governmental control. That was a poor choice of words due to the baggage and associations that go along with it. So now I'm just calling it "government-controlled health care."

COSTELLO: And you realize when you say "fascism" it brings up Nazi Germany and all sorts of things. And we really want that kind language out of our public forum at the moment, don't we?

MACKEY: Apparently – apparently you can't use that word in America any longer, it's taboo.

(Crosstalk)

COSTELLO: That's right because some of your customers –

MACKEY: So be careful, you just used it.

COSTELLO: I did. Some of your customers though did express outrage at your use of that word. It was on the Whole Foods Facebook page. One person said, and I quote, "Of course, he regrets his word choice. It affects his bottom line. I do not believe this apology any more than I believe Mitt Romney's attempt to get out from under his 47 percent comments." Care to respond to that customer?

MACKEY: Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs. This is America.

COSTELLO: But why inject yourself into the debate over ObamaCare in the first place?

MACKEY: Whole Foods has 73,000 team members that we provide insurance for and these changes in the laws greatly affect us. It's raising our costs. It's making it more difficult to provide the insurance at affordable rates to our – to our team members, so I'm trying to protect them as well as I can.

COSTELLO: I think, though, that many of your customers probably wouldn't agree with you since, I don't know, you kind of run a store that appeals to the more liberal in America in some ways.

MACKEY: I don't understand what your question or your point is so –

COSTELLO: I'm just saying some people feel Whole Foods is a politically-correct grocery store because you sell organic goods, you're into health, et cetera, et cetera and some of your customers might be taken aback because – because of that.

MACKEY: They might be. I mean, Whole Foods is a very diverse company. We have a multiplicity of opinions. Again, we're the United States. We have freedom of speech. We're a democracy. We need to have a variety of opinions shared in order for us to remain a vital and prosperous country.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center