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YouTube video on Trump visit sets off social media firestorm

Dr. Scott Donaldson points to a farm field as he makes a YouTube video. Dr. Scott Donaldson points to a farm field as he makes a YouTube video.

Social media has been blowing up this week after a Hendersonville physician posted a YouTube video that ripped President Trump’s visit to a Mills River farm and suggested that migrant farmworkers, not the "captains of agribusiness," do the work that feeds America.

Scott Donaldson, a urologist who ran for Democratic nomination for the 11th Congressional District in 2018, recorded the 54-second video as he stood across the road from a large farm field. Trump visited to Flavor 1st Growers & Packers on Monday to highlight the Farmers to Families Food Box program.
“He was speaking to farmers but he wasn’t really speaking to farmers,” Donaldson said in the now-deleted video. “He was speaking to the captains of agribusiness because I know, they were all white and fat and they haven’t worked a day in their life in the field.
“Those are farmers over there,” he continued, pointing to workers in the farm field behind him. “They’re brown. They’ve walked a long way to get here, most of them illegal. If I told you where they were, ICE would show up and try to take ’em home.
“They’re the ones that provide our food for us, they’re the ones that put food on our table and they’re the ones that are being left out of this Republican-controlled system that we live in,” he said. “They’re the ones whose rights we should be fighting for because they’re the ones who feed us, not the large company agribusiness.”
The reaction was quick and furious.
In Facebook posts, people objected to Donaldson’s characterization of farmers and, pointing out that his practice is affiliated with county-owned Pardee Hosptial, said Pardee should sack him. Some called for a boycott of his practice.
“Wowwwww!!! How about this,” Amy Lynn Holt, a School Board member, said in a post. “Dr. Scott Donaldson calling our farmers fat and that they’ve not worked a day in their lives!! What a complete jerk this guy is!”
Pardee CEO Jay Kirby put out an intra-hospital email around mid-morning addressing the social media uproar. Kirby said that he assumed many employees had heard about or watched Donaldson’s video on the president’s visit to Mills River and Flavor 1st.
“I have watched it and like many commenting on social media and within our community, I do not agree with Dr. Donaldson’s comments and wish he had not posted them," Kirby said. "Likewise, there may be others who agree with his comments. That’s the nature of opinions.”
He defended Donaldson’s right to speak under “freedom of expression and personal liberty” protected by the Constitution, adding that the physician had removed the post voluntarily after the two talked. He cautioned employees to avoid making statements that might appear to represent Pardee’s point of view.
“It’s important to remember that when any one of us takes to social media to express views, we represent Pardee simply by default,” he said. “Unfortunately, even though no one should assume that any individual other than myself or someone speaking on official business for Pardee is representing the organization, many people will draw that conclusion and make assumptions.”
He added that he had personally called Flavor 1st co-owner Kirby Johnson to tell him that “I and Pardee Hospital support his work and his workforce.” Johnson was “very gracious and supportive of Pardee,” he added. The Pardee CEO also called Mark Williams, director of the farm-supporting agency AgHC, to express support for farmers. Williams, too, was “very gracious.”
As for some of the comments, which were made with no supporting evidence, Donaldson said declined to elaborate.
“The less I talk about it, the better off I’m going to be,” he said. “I have a hard time knowing who I’m going to get in trouble with these days. I’m not giving a no comment. I’m just saying talk to Mr. Kirby.”

Johnson said hosting the president had nothing to do with partisan politics.

"if this would have been six years ago I would have had the same reception for Obama," he said. "People that know me know that ever since I was 14 I've spent 15-18 hours a day around the packing house." He said Kirby called him at 8:20 Tuesday morning to apologize on behalf of Pardee. "I've had a thousand calls, more of them being upset about Scott than to congratulate me about meeting the president," Johnson said. "A lot of people in Henderson County are upset about this."
Williams, the AgHC director, said Donaldson had shown that he knows nothing about farming.
“I’m not going to pretend to know anything about urology,” he said. “Everybody’s got their own perspective on things. I will say that farmers are some of the hardest working folks you’ll find. Spend a day with them and see if you can keep up. … You catch them on any given day you’ll see,” he added. “You’ll see sweat and dirt all over ’em. They’re some of the hardest working folks you’ve ever seen and they’ve been doing it for generations.”
He also defended the field workers, saying the agriculture community knows how essential they are.
“We value our workers in the field,” he said. “It’s all a team effort. We appreciate all they do. If it wasn’t for folks working hard in the field, the whole system would break down. They’re absolutely an important piece of puzzle. It takes the whole team to make it run, to feed us locally, to feed the world.”

“Jay was very kind,” he said of the call from the Pardee CEO. “He was concerned about the impression it might create about farming. Certainly it gets a lot of attention and people are offended on a number of sides.”
He had received calls about the video, he said, though none from people suggesting any action against Donaldson.
“Most people just blow it off and say that’s his opinion and he’s entitled to it,” he said.