Wal-Mart: Error to Blame for MLK Link

Marcus Kabel, AP, Jan. 6, 2006

Human error is to blame for an offensive link at Wal-Mart’s Web site that recommended a film about Martin Luther King Jr. to potential buyers of a “Planet of the Apes” DVD, the retail company said Friday.

The mistake resulted from a well-intentioned effort to promote a DVD about the black leader, said Carter Cast, president of walmart.com, the online shopping arm of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

A business manager had grouped “Martin Luther King: I Have a Dream” with three other black-themed movies and assigned the package an overly broad category of DVD boxed sets, Cast said.

So when an online visitor looked at a listing for the boxed DVD set “Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series,” the black-themed movies appeared under “similar items.”

Cast said the display juxtaposition may have existed for the past year.

Wal-Mart removed the feature from its Web site Thursday after learning of the juxtaposition from reporters. Wal-Mart apologized and shut down indefinitely its entire online system for referring shoppers to other movies.

Cast said there was no racist motivation.

“There was nobody here who maliciously put together that combination,” Cast said by phone from walmart.com’s headquarters in Brisbane, Calif. “I know the person was well-intended in trying to get the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech out as a cross-sell.”

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