The only way to do justice to Jane Mayer’s latest in the New Yorker is to read it. The headline:

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How Trump Is Helping Tycoons Exploit the Pandemic

The secretive titan behind one of America’s largest poultry companies, who is also one of the President’s top donors, is ruthlessly leveraging the coronavirus crisis—and his vast fortune—to strip workers of protections.

It’s about Ronnie Cameron of Little Rock, the billionaire head of Mountaire Poultry; his significant involvement in Republican politics (Huckabee, Cotton and most particularly Trump); the hundreds of millions he’s put in a private religio-political organization; the unflattering picture of his poultry operations (anti-union miserly, anti-regulation), and a whole lot more. A good dose of Little Rock family life is included, too, from his younger days as heir to the company created by his father.

It’s a book-length treatment of Cameron, but it’s also about how the poultry industry has gotten itself declared essential and gotten fat off foreign exports in the name of protecting the American food chain. It’s about the hotbed of COVID-19 the poultry plants have become and how Trump administration influence has been helpful to them all, not insignificantly Tyson Foods.

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Tremendous reporting on a man who keeps a very low local profile while wielding an enormous amount of political influence.

Striking anecdote, in the course of relating Cameron’s religious conservatism. It was related by a Hall High School friend, Bobby Duffy, who went on to a longtime career in journalism in St. Louis.

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Cameron was raised an Episcopalian, but he and his wife now attend one of Little Rock’s biggest evangelical churches, Fellowship Bible. A hub of social conservatism, it lists condemnation of homosexuality as among its key beliefs, stating on its Web site that “Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women.”

 

Six years ago, Duffy told me, he ran into Cameron at a memorial service. They hadn’t seen each other in years, but, because they had been close in school, Duffy felt that he could speak openly about his life. “You know I’m gay, don’t you?” he said.

“Yes,” Cameron replied. “And I also know you’re going to Hell.” He turned his back and walked away.

“I was stunned,” Duffy told me. “I think he became very devout, and then, at some point, the devotion went to the right.”

Oh and there’s a spokesman for a union that represents Mountaire workers quoted (and showing a check stub) as saying the company deducted the cost of protective gear from workers’ paychecks. The company denies this