See below for an update.
The Newseum is a fascinating place to visit if you’re ever in D.C. It’s like a history of history — a collection of exhibits on the media that celebrates and honors the role of the press in American history.
So, what are they doing selling MAGA hats and T-shirts that say “You Are Very Fake News” in the gift shop of this hallowed place?
One reporter was shocked, shocked, I say, to see the offending chapeau on display:
Your "fake news" t-shirts aren't funny, @Newseum
They make a mockery of the reporters, whose names you have inscribed on your walls, who died for their vocation.
— Leigh Giangreco (@LeighGiangreco) August 3, 2018
As for sales of merchandise at the museum, Sonya Gavankar, a Newseum spokeswoman, told Poynter that “the MAGA hat and the FBI hat are two of our best-selling items.”
She added that the merchandise offered for sale shows how the museum tries to foster an environment that encourages free expression.
“As a nonpartisan organization, people with differing viewpoints feel comfortable visiting the Newseum,” she said, “and one of our greatest strengths is that we’re champions not only of a free press but also of free speech.”
But a member of the White House press corps, on condition of anonymity, objected to the Newseum selling political merchandise, adding that “fake news” apparel was an “insult to journalists,” Poynter reported.
“I go to the Newseum a lot and actually saw these T-shirts previously,” the reporter told Poynter. “I remember commenting to my friend how inappropriate I thought it was to sell this anti-press material at a museum that celebrates our industry.
“’Fake news’ is a phrase that undercuts our profession and the hard-working journalists who practice the craft,” the reporter continued. “Selling clothing that is blatantly anti-press further promotes hatred towards journalists.”
Journalists are no harder working than anyone else, and less hardworking than many. What does how hard someone works have to do with anything?
I think this is the problem with the media in a nutshell. They believe that their job is actually a sacred calling — that any criticism is heresy and people who accuse them of twisting the facts in service to a political agenda should be burned at the stake.
Trump himself recently reiterated his belief that not all media are “enemies of the people.”
They asked my daughter Ivanka whether or not the media is the enemy of the people. She correctly said no. It is the FAKE NEWS, which is a large percentage of the media, that is the enemy of the people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 2, 2018
By puffing up their profession to be something it isn’t, reporters who object to MAGA hats and fake news T-shirts can frame any criticism of the press as sacrilege.
Iowahawk nails it:
Put me in charge of the Newseum gift shop, I'll add MAGA magic beans and Qanon frisbees and LOCK HER UP plastic handcuffs, I'll have that dump back in the black in 3 weeks
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) August 3, 2018
The media needs to stop elevating itself into some exalted position above the rest of us and realize that the greatest threat to free speech is not our witless president but the cold, calculated distortions and exaggerations of reporters who are slaves to a political ideology.
UPDATE 2:49 EST: In response to pressure from journalists and activists, the Newseum has reversed its decision to “champion” free speech, announcing in a statement the museum’s decision to remove the “fake news” T-shirts:
The Newseum has removed the “You Are Very Fake News” t-shirts from the gift shop and online. We made a mistake and we apologize. A free press is an essential part of our democracy and journalists are not the enemy of the people.
Questions have also been raised regarding other merchandise. As an organization that celebrates the rights of people from all political spectrums to express themselves freely, we’ve historically made all types of political merchandise available for our guests to purchase. That has included former and current presidential slogans and imagery and merchandise from all political parties. We continue to do so in celebration of freedom of speech.