Target CEO accused of telling ‘flat-out lies’ about Pride merchandise backlash by Consumers’ Research leader

Consumers’ Research executive director Will Hild blasted Target CEO Brian Cornell for “flat-out lies” made about the big box retailer’s LGBTQ Pride merchandise during a recent interview

Last week, Cornell appeared on CNBC where he discussed declining sales, particularly following protests and critiques of its Pride Month merchandise. During the interview, host Becky Quick told Cornell that people felt there were “transgender bathing suits that are being targeted and market to kids” and that Target worked with a designer who was a “devil worshiper.”

Cornell responded, “You and I both know, those weren’t true.”

Hild, whose Consumers’ Research is on a mission to “fight woke corporations,” couldn’t believe what came out of the Target CEO’s mouth.

“He just flat out lies about what Target did,” Hild told Fox News Digital.

“He says that they didn’t target children with transgender ideology products, and he says that they didn’t work with the devil worshiper. Both of those things are verifiable facts,” Hild continued. “They’ve been reported by a number of different publications, and there’s just no question that this was done. He’s flat out lying to his customers.”

Target worked with the U.K.-based brand Abprallen for Pride Month. The brand has displayed merchandise with messages such as “Satan respects pronouns,” and the designer, Erik Carnell, has espoused Satanic beliefs. As for the women’s style swimsuits that advertise “tuck-friendly construction” to hide male genitalia, they did not come in children’s sizes but were placed in colorful Pride sections surrounded by other items, many of which were for children.

“One additional claim he made is that children were not targeted with these so-called ‘tuck’ bathing suits that were being sold. And that’s just not true. They were placed in and among products made for children next to them into the display. If that’s not targeting children – if you’re putting literally the product next to child’s products – I don’t know what targeting is,” Hild said. 

Target did not respond to a request for comment on criticism from Consumers’ Research.

When the backlash to Pride merchandise was first brought up during the CNBC interview, Cornell immediately said that some Target employees felt more unsafe at work because customers were so angry. 

“What we saw coming out of Target CEO Cornell in this interview is a common tactic that companies that get in trouble for going woke use, where they try to put their employees safety or some concerns about their employees well-being in front of their mistake,” Hild said. 

“They focus on that instead of what they’ve done to offend their consumer. And consumers should really see this as another finger in their eye,” he continued. “This guy is trying to pretend like the customer is the real problem here and not the fact that they were trying to push a far-left radical gender ideology on the children or in their store.”

Hild feels Cornell’s strategy is designed to “distract from the fact that he has made his stores unsafe for people to bring their own small children” into the popular retailer. 

“He is the one who made Target stores unsafe for children, for the children of his customers, for children of his employees,” Hild said. “And yet he wants to deflect and put the blame back on his own customer base. He’s basically blaming you, the customer, for his mistakes.”

Target has featured massive June Pride month displays on an annual basis, but this year’s merchandise caused problems before the celebration of LGBTQ even began when the “tuck” bathing suits went viral. Pride merchandise also includes onesies and rompers for newborn babies, children’s coloring books that featured images of adults kissing, a variety of adult clothing with slogans such as “Super Queer,” party supplies, a “Gender Fluid” mug, and a “Grow At Your Own Pace” saucer planter.

At the time, a Target insider told Fox News Digital that the retail juggernaut was taking steps to avoid a “Bud Light situation” after the Pride merchandise infuriated some customers. 

Target then confirmed “adjustments” were made to some in-store Pride displays with some items being removed altogether. Most rank-and-file employees were left in the dark about changes, with many not knowing the Pride sections would be moved and items would be pulled until they noticed it themselves, which irked progressive staffers. 

Later in the CNBC interview, Cornell, who once famously said “woke” capitalism is “great” for their brand, suggested Target is “through” the outrage. 

“He talks about how customers are past this. The backlash is over. This is fantastical thinking,” Hild said. “Consumers remember what Target did to target children.”

It was also previously revealed that Target partnered with GLSEN, a K-12 education group that focuses on getting districts to adopt policies that will keep parents in the dark about their child’s in-school gender transition, providing sexually explicit books to schools for free and integrating gender ideology at all levels of curricula in public schools. GLSEN, which had signage inside Target stores’ Pride displays, has received at least $2.1 million in donations from Target. 

Fox News’ Lindsay Kornick, Hannah Grossman and Nikolas Lanum contributed to this report. 

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