OTR Interviews

Point-Counterpoint in Whole Foods Boycott

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 20, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Last night, we told you about John Mackey, CEO of the national chain store Whole Foods. Last week, Mackey wrote an op-ed saying we need health care reform but not the president's plan. And guess what happens? Some angry customers, more than 20,000 of them now, are calling for a boycott of Whole Foods, but not everyone agrees. We have both sides covered. Joining us live is Russell Mokhiber, founder of the group Single Payer Action. His group is organizing protests against Whole Foods. And on the other side, Crystal Jones, creator of the FaceBook page, I support Mr. John Mackey and Whole Foods, Inc.

Welcome to both of you. And let me go first to you, Russell. Is John Mackey, the CEO, a bad guy?

RUSSELL MOKHIBER, LEADING WHOLE FOODS BOYCOTT: Well, he had -- he wrote a really nasty piece in The Wall Street Journal, and I think the majority of Whole Foods customers would disagree with him.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you say he's -- as I read that article, I didn't see it as a nasty -- I saw this as a CEO, who, incidentally, a couple years ago gave up his pay and donates all his pay to charity -- but that he had a different idea. He said he's for health care reform, he's just not for the president's plan.

MOKHIBER: Well, he's...

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that right?

MOKHIBER: He's for -- he's against single-payer. That's what we're concerned about. He's against any government...

VAN SUSTEREN: Does that make him a bad guy?

MOKHIBER: I think it makes him a bad guy because 60 Americans are dying every day from lack of health insurance, and the only way to fix it, according to Marcia Angell, former editor of "The New England Journal of Medicine," is single-payer, which means everybody in, nobody out. It's the only way that controls costs and covers everyone.

So if you come out against that and...

VAN SUSTEREN: You think he's a bad guy.

MOKHIBER: Yes, I do -- and 60 Americans are dying every day because of lack of health insurance -- when you cross the border into Canada and that number is zero -- and we know what works and we could do it tomorrow, then, yes. I think if he's advocating for that, his customers should know it. And we're going to go picket Whole Foods stores tomorrow and tell the customers, You're spending money to pay this guy's salary and this guy's advocating against the only option that's going to fix the system.

VAN SUSTEREN: According to you.

MOKHIBER: Yes, and that's according to him.


VAN SUSTEREN: You are unwilling -- you are unwilling to look at his editorial and see that he says, Look -- he says, I'm for it. Here's a solution, it's just not just your solution! So you say he's a bad guy!

MOKHIBER: He has a big megaphone, The Wall Street Journal. We're in front of the stores saying, Hey, look, you can shop here, but know his position.

VAN SUSTEREN: No, you said he was a bad guy. It's different.

MOKHIBER: Well, he's a bad guy because I think his policy -- if he...


MOKHIBER: If his policy wins -- if his policy wins, then 60 Americans are going to continue to die every day. So I would say that, yes, he's a bad guy.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Crystal, your view on the thought of boycotting this -- the CEO of Whole Foods?

CRYSTAL JONES, SUPPORTS WHOLE FOODS CEO: Greta, first off, I'd like to thank you for having me. It's an honor. I think it's a crazy world whenever we call someone a bad guy because we don't agree with him, first off. I mean, this is -- if a CEO can't state his opinion, what kind of country is that? I mean, you're judging an entire company on the beliefs of one person.

If you look at the things that Whole Foods does as a company -- they pay 100 percent of the insurance premiums for 90 percent of their employees, anyone who works over 30 hours a week. You can also earn up to additional $1,800 in addition to that from the company towards your deductibles, whatever you want related to your health care. So here we have 50,000 employees who aren't part of the -- of the uninsured.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Russell, you stun me. You're a lawyer. And I guess that's why -- or you have a legal education. And what stuns me most of all is not an appreciation of here's one guy who -- I mean, who has done nothing but give back. This is a guy who employs 50,000 people and he has a different idea and you don't like it and you think -- and so you call him a bad guy.


MOKHIBER: He has right...

VAN SUSTEREN: Can I tell you...

MOKHIBER: Look, what stuns me is I took my 12-year-old son to Wise County, Virginia, two weeks ago, where a group called Remote Area Medical sets up and gives free medical care...


MOKHIBER: And at 7:00 o'clock in the morning, we saw 2,200 of our fellow American citizens waiting for free medical care because they don't have it. And then the next day, the same thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: He's -- but...

MOKHIBER: And the next day, the same thing.



MOKHIBER: That's what stuns me is 60 Americans dying every day. That's what stuns me.

VAN SUSTEREN: He doesn't agree with you! He doesn't...


MOKHIBER: He can write that in The Wall Street Journal, and I can go -- we can picket. I've heard...

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm not talking...


VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, of course, you can picket! You said he's a bad guy!

MOKHIBER: And he is a bad guy because his policies...

VAN SUSTEREN: Because he disagrees with you!

MOKHIBER: No. No. Because...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's just appalling!

MOKHIBER: ... his policies that he's advocating in The Wall Street Journal, if they win, are going to continue to kill 60 Americans a day, when we know what works and we know that we can save 60 American lives a day by implementing -- and the reason it's not happening is because the health insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry have a hammerlock on this city. That's why it's not happening.


VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very politely letting you have your say, but I'm very disappointed in you to call a man who has made such an enormous contribution -- this is not -- this is not a guy who's been selfish and who is not sitting there, coming up with other ideas (INAUDIBLE)

MOKHIBER: I think it's very selfish to say that the government has no role in insurance, and therefore, we're going to condemn 60...

VAN SUSTEREN: Crystal...

MOKHIBER: ... Americans to death every day.


JONES: Yes, Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: ... give you the last word on this. Go ahead. I'm sorry. (INAUDIBLE) we got our horns locked here.

JONES: That's quite all right. You know, when I first was going to come on with you tonight, I was going to stick to the fact that whether or not you agree with John Mackey, he has a right to his opinion. Everyone has a right to decide where they're going to spend their money. But if you boycott Whole Foods, you're not hurting John Mackey, you're hurting the employees who work there. You're hurting the business.

This is a company that gives us natural, whole, healthy, organic foods, who buys as much as possible from local farmers in the areas where their stores are. They contribute 5 percent once a day. They have a day where the profits go towards that -- 5 percent of the profits go towards that community. You know, where the buy their products globally, they go back into those communities and give back. So I mean, I just don't understand judging one -- the entire company based on the opinions of one person. And I think it's a frightening world when a CEO can't speak up just like any other American.

MOKHIBER: He can speak up, and we can speak up.

VAN SUSTEREN: And let me give you an equal megaphone here just in all fairness. You have organized a protest for tomorrow at Whole Foods, right?

MOKHIBER: At the Whole Foods here in Washington, D.C., in Austin, Texas, where the headquarters is, and in New York City. So there's three. But we're also hearing from the employees of Whole Foods, who are outraged that the CEO is taking this position.

VAN SUSTEREN: And let me just tell you that I actually -- I actually believe you have a 1st Amendment right to do this, of course. I'm a lawyer. But what surprises me most is -- is your election to go after this guy. I think you got a lot of -- a lot better targets than this particular guy.

MOKHIBER: Well, he -- he wrote...

JONES: Greta, I have to tell you, too, I mean, it's not -- the employees -- I think it's -- I think it's, frankly, foolish to say that the employees across the board are upset with John Mackey. I can't tell you how many people I've talked to myself who support this. I can't tell you how many hundreds of people I've talked to who said they're going to go shop at Whole Foods now because of this, because he is a brave man who wrote an intelligent...

VAN SUSTEREN: And you know...


MOKHIBER: Crystal, my guess is the majority of customers at Whole Foods are outraged by Mackey's op-ed in The Wall Street Journal...

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but I have...

MOKHIBER: ... and a big chunk of...

VAN SUSTEREN: But wait a second. You know, Russell...

MOKHIBER: ... the employees are outraged.

JONES: Time will tell.

VAN SUSTEREN: Russell -- Russell, this is what I don't get, though. The guy says, you know, he wants to help. We do need -- we do need health care reform. He just doesn't agree with you! And that's what enrages you.

MOKHIBER: That's true because the majority...

VAN SUSTEREN: He is -- he's actually...

JONES: Exactly!

VAN SUSTEREN: It's not just a -- he's not just got a plan, he's got a plan, he lays it out as an option. And he has been successful in giving his people health insurance. That's what is so stunning to me is that you don't like his opinion, so you label him a bad guy!

MOKHIBER: No. The majority of doctors in this country don't like his opinion, and the majority -- that's why the majority of doctors -- unlike 10 years ago, now the majority of doctors say not -- single payer is not only the best solution, it's the only solution that will control costs and cover everyone!

VAN SUSTEREN: And I -- And I'm giving you the last word...

JONES: That's false. I would like a source for that.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I gave you the last word, and also you announced your protest tomorrow. And good luck, and I hope you come back. And you and I -- we can duke it out again. We may never agree. Crystal, as well, thank you very much.

JONES: Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: I hope you'll all come back.

MOKHIBER: Thank you.

Content and Programming Copyright 2009 FOX News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC, which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, LLC'S and CQ Transcriptions, LLC's copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.