Since the disclosure of merchandise touting ‘fake news’ being sold inside the museum gift shops, Newseum has apologized and taken the items off their sales floor.
Donald Trump has called the news media “the enemy of the people,” in what has become a major story across various press outlets, both conservative and liberal. The statement comes alongside senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump’s disagreement with the president and his words against the media and press. Considering the buzz around this hot button topic, Poynter — a global leader in journalism — was in the process of clarifying whether or not the White House truly considers all news media “the enemy of the people,” cited the Washington Post. Their visit inside Newseum lead to an outright uproar among journalists toward the Washington, D.C., museum.
Newseum is a widely popular Washington attraction. Its an interactive museum aimed at promoting free expression and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, while displaying the evolution of communication. The museum is seven levels and over 250,000 square-feet, where more than 815,000 visitors have waltzed through the doors since its grand opening in 2008.
Inside the museum, Newseum was selling T-shirts that read “You are very fake news,” as well as MAGA hats, cited Poynter in the initial news release. These items could have appealed to supporters of President Trump and the rhetoric that news media and other forms of press communication are purely untrustworthy, thereby popularizing the term “fake news” even more so.
Tensions over this subject matter continue to grow higher on both sides. Most recently, Trump asserted the “fake news” term at a rally in Pennsylvania on Thursday, where the remark prompted chants such as “CNN sucks” from his crowd. Instances such as this have raised concerns that tensions could be cultivating hostility from both Trump supporters and the opposition, which Axios cited as a “world wide crisis” for everyone. Axios is the communication outlet that recently interviewed Ivanka Trump on the subject of whether or not she believed the news media to be “the enemy of the people.”
Twitter users and others spoke out alongside journalists on the issue of these “fake news” T-shirts. One user pointed to past reporters, “whose names [Newseum has] inscribed on [their] walls.”
Indeed, the disclosure of “fake news” T-shirts being sold inside an educational establishment such as Newseum elicited a reaction from journalists, who worry that the potential over-use of this term is possibly harmful to conservative and liberal media in and outside of the United States by possibly leading to a world where distrust and confusion clouds important reports.
Outlets and websites posing as legitimate news media outlets are known by U.S. intelligence agencies to purposefully spread misleading and even outright false information via social media outlets and news aggregation websites. To combat such smear campaigns all across the web, Téa Francesca Price recently opined in USA Today that it is up to private citizens to learn to distinguish fact from conjecture and outright lies. She suggests, above all else, verifying legitimacy of sources before commenting or sharing news pieces.
Newseum recognized the potential that selling the items could be seen as an agreement that journalists are “the enemy of the people” and pulled the “fake news” merchandise from its shelves, issuing an apology via Twitter. Newseum continues to assert that they believe in a free press as an “essential part” of America’s democracy.
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