Sewergate: The final update

“Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers: We have a special on crow in aisle seven!”

Last week, I mentioned the story of a family with brand-new quadruplets and their struggles to get their tiny house expanded to fit. One solution involved them tapping into a nearby Wal-Mart’s sewer line.

I lambasted Wal-Mart — twice — for blowing a great chance to score some good PR, to grab a chance to prove their slogan that “you couldn’t have a better neighbor.” The crux of my thesis was when the Lynches asked Wal-Mart for permission, they blew them off without an answer.

Great idea, great piece, only one flaw:

Wal-Mart DID answer. They said “no.”

I’m not quite sure how I missed it, but it was quite clearly stated in the original story:

The couple, who spent $2,700 on an engineer to design a septic system, asked the giant retail chain for help. Wal-Mart said no.

Wal-Mart was taking its sweet time in explaining why it declined the family’s request, but they are under absolutely no obligation to do so. In fact, the commenters on my pieces (and Paul’s rebuttal) cited several very compelling reasons why they were probably wise to decline.

Sorry, folks, I screwed up. I have a bit of a dislike for Wal-Mart that I trace back to their attempt to take by eminent domain a hunk of property currently occupied by a regional discount retailer I rather like to build a SuperCenter. With that, I tend to have a rather jaundiced eye towards them. And it means that in this case, I didn’t scrutinize the initial story as closely as I should have.

I guess I didn’t learn the lesson from Rathergate — the more something seems to confirm your prejudices, the more suspicious you ought to be. And if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

I can’t promise it won’t happen again, but I can promise I’ll be a lot more paranoid about it happening again. And all of you who challenged and corrected me — my thanks.

Carnival of the Trackbacks XXIII
A Lesson to be Learned From the Plame Case


  1. ed August 6, 2005
  2. -S- August 6, 2005
  3. Kevin August 7, 2005