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Anheuser-Busch, the producer of Budweiser beers, is facing criticism from liberals and progressives for apparently trying to smooth things over with transphobic conservatives that boycotted the product.
Brendan Whitworth, the CEO of AB, issued a statement on Saturday after a week of conservative backlash to his product assuring the company's critics that he loves America, and that he "never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people."
The "division" at the heart of the matter came in the form of a sponsored advertistment deal AB made with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Ms Mulvaney was celebrating their first full year as a woman and posted sponsored Instagram videos showing off a special Budweiser can featuring their face on the label ahead of March Madness.
Seeing a trans influencer's face on a beer can triggered conservatives, inspiring some to film videos of themselves smashing or shooting or tossing away the Budweiser products they had already paid for.
Mr Whitworth apparently felt the pressure of Kid Rock shooting a bunch of beer cans with a submachine gun near a lake.
"We have thousands of partners, millions of fans and a proud history supporting our communities, military, first responders, sports fans and hard-working Americans everywhere," he wrote. "We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer."
He promised that he "cared deeply" about the country sand said he planned to "spend much of my time traveling across America, listening to and learning from our customers, distributors and others."
Left-leaning commenters on social media weren't impressed, and wondered what the CEO could possibly learn — other than intolerance — from the people who opposed Ms Mulvaney's inclusion on the can.
Pathetic statement from @AnheuserBusch CEO.
To be clear they sent a trans influencer personalized cans of Budlight. That’s not “dividing” people. Caving to these hateful bigots is what divides our country.
Shame on you, Brendan Whitworth. Epic leadership fail. pic.twitter.com/Jvi2hHi5c8
— Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) April 14, 2023
"Pathetic statement from @AnheuserBusch CEO," attorney and law professor Kaivan Shroff said. "To be clear they sent a trans influencer personalized cans of Budlight. That’s not “dividing” people. Caving to these hateful bigots is what divides our country. Shame on you, Brendan Whitworth. Epic leadership fail."
NBC News' Ben Collins said Mr Whitworth caved to "a mob that was shooting at and running over its product for giving a one-minute sponsored Instragram post to a trans person."
Yeah, I’m sure the people literally shooting at Bud Light cans and driving over cases in their trucks will be satisfied with this and start acting reasonably. Great job!
— Jorge Ribas (@jribas) April 14, 2023
The Washington Post's Jorge Ribas shared Mr Collins' sentiments.
"Yeah, I’m sure the people literally shooting at Bud Light cans and driving over cases in their trucks will be satisfied with this and start acting reasonably. Great job!" he wrote.
Mr Whitworth's statement wasn't enough to sway some conservatives.
Ian Miles Cheong, a right-wing US political commentator who does not and has never lived in the United States, was not impressed by the about-face by AB.
"This is the non-apology from Bud Light that conservatives are falling all over themselves to hail as a massive victory against wokeness. And this is why I say conservatism is wokeism driving at the speed limit," he wrote.
It is unclear what that actually means.
Other conservatives reposted Kid Rock's video and called for a continued Bud boycott to tank the company's stock price.
In some sense the CEO accomplished his goal of bringing people together, with the common ground being a mutual disdain for his statement.