UPDATE: Aug. 4 ― Following an outcry, the Newseum has pulled the “You are very fake news” T-shirt from its store while defending other conservative merchandise.
“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,” its statement said.
Repeating a previous claim, the Newseum said it has “historically made all types of political merchandise” available to patrons and will continue to do so “in celebration of freedom of speech.”
The Newseum in Washington, D.C., which celebrates a free press and free speech, is selling shirts featuring the phrase “You are very fake news” ― a catchphrase President Donald Trump frequently uses to delegitimize the press.
The museum is also selling hats bearing Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Trump has long had a contentious relationship with the media, calling journalists the “enemy of the people.” On Tuesday, he lambasted the “fake disgusting news” at a rally to endorse Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race.
“What ever happened to the free press? What ever happened to honest reporting?” Trump asked the crowd. “They don’t report it. They only make up stories.”
Baffled journalists and others on Twitter wondered why a museum that aims to “increase public understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment” would be championing Trump’s antagonism toward journalists.
“‘Fake news’ is a phrase that undercuts our profession and the hard-working journalists who practice the craft. Selling clothing that is blatantly anti-press further promotes hatred towards journalists,” a member of the White House press corps, who wished to remain anonymous, told Poynter.
Here’s what other people had to say:
Sonya Gavankar, director of public relations for the Newseum, told HuffPost in an email that merchandise like the fake news shirts and MAGA hats are part of the museum’s effort to be “champions” of “free press, but also of free speech.”
“We recognize why you’re asking the question. As a nonpartisan organization people with differing viewpoints feel comfortable visiting the Newseum, and one of our greatest strengths is that we’re champions not only of a free press, but also of free speech,” she said.
When HuffPost asked what the Newseum has to say about the overwhelmingly negative response from journalists, Gavankar did not immediately respond.