If you're looking to buy a copy of Robert Greenwald's superb documentary, "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War," don't go to your local Wal-Mart. Anderson Merchandising, the company that picks the movies that are sold in the retail chain, has told the distributor of the movie that the film is "unpatriotic" and inappropriate for Wal-Mart.
The decision is a huge blow to any movie's potential sales because Wal-Mart is one of the largest outlets in terms of CD and DVD sales, and is often the only retail source in smaller communities. In other words, it's a form of corporate censorship.
The question we have to ask is what is Wal-Mart's motive? A benign interpretation would say that Wal-Mart thinks carrying the movie would be unpopular with its customer base.
A less benign interpretation would see political overtones, even corporate payback to a White House that has been very good to it.
Wal-Mart's choice to label the movie "unpatriotic," disturbing in its own right, plays into this question. If Wal-Mart doesn't want to carry it because it thinks the movie won't make money, then fine.
But Wal-Mart should leave the decision of what is and is not patriotic to its customers. The market forces that Wal-Mart (and Bush) supposedly have such great confidence in should render Wal-Mart's judgement completely unnecessary. That is, if they really trust the market to do its job.
Wal-Mart's refusal to let the people decide if the movie is unpatriotic or not implies that it is trying to defend its political backers. Otherwise, it would simply have said that it didn't want the movie because people wouldn't buy it.