Humor

Five Companies That Deserve the David Hogg/MyPillow Treatment

David Hogg
David Hogg Photo by Tarpley Hitt
In the nearly three years since a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, survivors and families of those who died have grieved their losses, launched gun-control and school-safety movements, and inspired changes to gun laws in states across the country.

They have also battled misinformation and, to this day, continue to speak out against harmful conspiracy theories calling the February 14, 2018 massacre a hoax. Most recently, they've taken on Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Parkland-denying, QAnon-credulous Republican congresswoman who apparently believes the shooting was a "false flag" and who was caught on camera harassing student activist David Hogg.

Yesterday, Hogg announced on Twitter that he and entrepreneur William LeGate are launching a company to compete directly with MyPillow, the pillow manufacturer founded by Mike Lindell, a former crack addict and a fervent supporter of former president Donald Trump who has repeatedly spewed delusional conspiracy theories about COVID-19 miracle cures and the 2020 election.
MyPillow has joined the ranks of companies whose customers have dropped them and whose products have been pulled from store shelves because of its financial support of Trump, conspiracy-theorist-in-chief, commander of the seditious forces, and ruler of white nationalists.

Hogg's sales pitch: "Progressives can make a better pillow, run a better business and help make the world a better place while doing it." One of his company's values, he tweeted, is not attempting an overthrow of the U.S. government.


You know, so everyone can sleep better at night.

Here in the New Times Business Bunker, where our Crass Commercialism Crew has been hunkered down for nearly a year stacking our pennies into rolls, it wasn't difficult to come up with a handful of companies that do land-office business in South Florida but could be upended by the right competitor.

Without further ado, here are the New Times Select Few:

Publix

If you don't know why Publix is at the top of this list, you simply haven't been paying attention. A recent Wall Street Journal investigation found that Publix heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli donated $300,000 to the January 6 pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., where the soon-to-be-former president spouted his baseless, oft-repeated claims of election fraud, inciting his supporters to march to the Capitol and "fight like hell."

After the story broke, Publix attempted to distance itself from Fancelli, issuing a statement saying that she isn't involved in their business operations and doesn't represent the Lakeland- based company in any way. That argument quickly deflates when you take into account Publix's history of controversial political contributions not only by way of its heirs, but in the company's own name.

As an example, the grocery chain made a $100,000 donation to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' political action committee in December. Since then, Publix has been awarded contracts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the state. DeSantis insists the deal was not pay-to-play.

Oakes Farms Seed to Table Market

Oakes Farms Seed to Table Market, a Naples-area grocer, made national headlines this week after news footage surfaced showing mostly maskless employees and customers inside the store. A sign outside the store absolves customers from wearing masks despite a countywide mandate that's in effect until April 2021; the sign says management will assume maskless customers are exempt from wearing face coverings because of a medical condition.

Store owner Alfie Oakes calls the virus a hoax. He claims masks don't work and that the coronavirus pandemic has not actually killed more than 400,000 Americans. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a science-based public-health institute that knows what it is talking about, says otherwise.

According to the Naples Daily News, Oakes has challenged Collier County's mask mandate in federal court, arguing that the order violates his rights under the First and Fourteenth amendments. A judge tossed Oakes' lawsuit on Wednesday.

Goya Foods

Robert Unanue, the CEO of Goya Foods, caught heat in July for trumpeting the former president's false voter-fraud claims and for heaping praise on Trump during a White House visit. Unanue said the nation was "truly blessed" to have a leader like the president.

Unanue called Trump "a builder." And, technically, he's right: Trump did build part of a wall in an attempt to keep immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. He elevated his reputation as a vigorously anti-immigrant former president. He created the term "shithole countries" to refer to African nations, Haiti, and El Salvador. His administration separated children from their families and caged children in detention centers.

If Trump were Bob the Builder, he would answer "Yes, we can!" to each and every question related to the construction of anti-immigrant infrastructure in the United States.

Goya's board of directors censured the CEO and banned him from speaking to media about anything without the board's permission.

Facebook

Fox News might have served as Trump's greatest propaganda machine, but Facebook helped, too. The social-media giant allowed Russian misinformation to run rampant on the site for years and reach millions of Americans.

One of Facebook's board members, Peter Thiel, donated some $1.25 million to Trump's campaign in 2016, and founder Mark Zuckerberg defended the donation in an internal communication. Zuckerberg wrote that the company "can't create a culture that cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate."

Added Zuckerberg: "There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia, or accepting sexual assault."

Thiel opted not to donate to Trump's re-election campaign because of the president's bungled COVID-19 response, and because he figured Trump would lose.

SoulCycle

Stephen Ross, the billionaire owner of the fitness company SoulCycle (and its parent company, Equinox), hosted a re-election fundraiser for Trump at his mansion in the Hamptons in August 2019. Customers who pay for expensive memberships at his high-end gyms and fitness studios swiftly responded by swiftly by canceling memberships.

Ross has been criticized for saying one thing out of his mouth and another thing out of his wallet. He released a statement saying he believes in racial justice, inclusion, diversity, public education, and environmental sustainability, and that his support for Trump stems from a "deep concern for creating jobs and growing our country's economy.

Ross, who also owns the Miami Dolphins and runs a nonprofit that aims to "eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations in sports," was criticized on that count by Kenny Stills, a former Dolphins wide receiver and current free agent.

Tweeted Stills
: "You can't have a nonprofit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump."
KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.