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Mike Rowe Blasts Media Coverage of His Walmart Ad, Names Writers and Calls Them Out: ‘I’m Sure Matt’s a Swell Guy, But…’


"I’m happy to 'shill' for any company that get this country back to work."


Though the attacks are mind-boggling, Mike Rowe is still fighting back critics over his decision to appear in a Walmart ad emphasizing the beauty of hard work. More importantly, the ad promotes the giant retailer’s pledge to invest $250 billion in U.S. manufacturing.

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“I’m back. 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,” Rowe wrote on Facebook on Monday.

Perhaps because he finds some amusement in pointing out the misleading arguments being made against him, the former “Dirty Jobs” host hit a few writers over their reporting on his relationship with Walmart.

He began with the “journalistic masterpiece” written by Matt Hardigree of Jalopnik, the automotive blog owned by Gawker Media. The headline: “Ford Drops Shill-For-The-Oppressors Mike Rowe From Truck Ads.”

There were a lot of problems with even just the headline, so we’ll let Rowe explain the facts:

“Shill for the Oppressors!” Is that not fantastic? I should make new business cards. I’m sure Matt’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. Matt believes that my recent work with Walmart drove The Ford Motor Company to fire me after seven years of service. He sees some sort of conspiracy at work in a recent Ad Age article, where according to him, every one played just “a little too nice.”

Sorry Matt - here are the facts. Ford didn’t “drop” me. We had serious discussions about another extension but decided not to proceed for reasons completely benign. We parted amicably long before the Walmart ad came along. A simple phone call to Ford would have confirmed that. Or, you could have done some really deep digging, and called me. People do it all the time, especially when they’re interested in geting the facts.

Bottom line - We “played nice” in Ad Age because the people involved are all, well...nice. I’m just at a point in my career where I want to associate myself with messages that speak directly to the issues that are important to me. That’s why the Walmart ad was so appealing. A $250 billion investment in US manufacturing is worth talking about, and very much in keeping with the goals of my own foundation. If any other “Oppressors” are looking to make a similar investment in America, drop me a line. I’m happy to “shill” for any company that get this country back to work.

Rowe then moved on to another piece written by Aimee Picchi for CBS News. As he points out in the Facebook post, the writer conveniently left out a key part of a comment he made to a critic.

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Underneath a photo of Rowe included in the report, which he says “conveys all the sincerity of an ambitious vacuum cleaner salesman at the annual Hoover convention,” the following quote is included: “Who gives a crap about your feelings toward Walmart?”

Unfortunately, Rowe writes, “Aimee leaves out the most important part, which for the record was this: ‘For that matter, who gives a crap about MY feelings? Isn’t the business of making things in America an initiative we can all get behind?’”

Rowe also objected to the insinuation that he is somehow now a spokesperson for Walmart. He notes:

Along with that omission, and the clever use of words like “hawk,” “tout,” and “spokesman,” the reader is left to believe that I’ve been empowered to speak on Walmart’s behalf in some sort of official capacity. In fact, I have not. I’m doing this because I want to encourage other companies to make similar investments in American manufacturing. That’s it.

Rowe was able to find at least one article that “literally drips with sanity and common sense.” You can read that piece, written by The Independent Voter Network’s Shawn Griffiths, here.

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