By Alan Murray and Geoffrey Smith
November 22, 2017

Good morning,

I interviewed Walmart CEO Doug McMillon before the Economic Club of New York yesterday, where he discussed the company’s remarkable turnaround, with 13 straight quarters of increasing same store sales in the U.S. at a time when other brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling.

But the most memorable part of the interview was his discussion of why Walmart has increased its focus on social issues in recent years—a striking change for a company so devoted to cost cutting. McMillon traces it back to 2005, when Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans. The company was under intense criticism in those days, having become something of a political lightning rod. Under the leadership of CEO Lee Scott, Walmart decided to go all out to help New Orleans, throwing people, merchandise and money to aid the Big Easy.

“We were so proud of how we’d stepped up in this difficult time,” McMillon recalls. In the days that followed, Lee asked the team “what would it take for us to feel this good all the time?” The result is a Walmart that in the last decade has made a massive commitment to environmental goals, as well a $2.7 billion investment to raise wages for hourly workers.

Separately, I received my own flood of messages from CEO Daily readers who objected to my suggestion that CNN tone down the anti-Trump rhetoric. CNN “is committed to speaking truth to power,” writes J.W. Their coverage “is exactly what’s needed in times like this,” says B.J. And did you “say the same about Fox over the past 10 years?” asked J.K. (I did.)

But R.B. came closest to my sentiment. “It’s not toning down that’s needed so much as it is, how about reporting some news? There is a lot going on in the world that is more important than the latest tweet.” By relentlessly focusing on presidential missteps, CNN has fed the view of many Americans that it is on a campaign against Trump, and helped undercut trust in media more generally. That’s one reason why, for instance so many Alabamans feel free to reject the Washington Post’s thoroughly reported stories on Roy Moore. What CNN is doing may be good for ratings, but it’s one more thing eroding our common ground.

More news below. CEO Daily will be dark for the next two days to give thanks we’ve survived the year.

Alan Murray


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