Museum folds like a cheap t-shirt

newseum

Or a $19.97 long sleeve.

Yesterday, a journalism website Poynter brought to everyone’s attention that a gift shop at Newseum (“the interactive news museum in Washington, D.C.”) is selling Donald Trump memorabilia, including his trademark red MAGA hats as well as a t-shirt with a slogan “You are all fake news”.

Journalists were not amused – it’s as if somebody farted in the church, which is not a far-fetched analogy, considering that most reporters regard their profession as a sacred calling, whose infallibility shall not be questioned by anyone, particularly those not initiated into the priesthood.

And so, following the usual outbreak of social media outrage and in a record-breaking time, Newseum pulled the t-shirt from its shop, explaining in a press release:

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.

That’s not what the t-shirt said, and one would argue that a right to criticise the press is an equally essential part of any democracy, together with a free press both enshrined in the 1st Amendment, which is carved on the wall outside Newseum. But hey, we’re not in the priesthood so what would we know? (Newseum, however, declared that they will continue to sell Trump merchandise like they do with all presidents’)

In light of this incident its rather hilarious to read Newseum explaining its important role:

The mission of the Newseum, located in Washington, D.C., is to increase public understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. Visitors experience the story of news, the role of a free press in major events in history, and how the core freedoms of the First Amendment — religion, speech, press, assembly and petition — apply to their lives.

Here’s an idea about a new exhibit: a case study how entities exercising their 1st Amendment rights surrender to online outrage mobs, with a case study of the Newseum’s instant capitulation. Visitors will very much experience how the core freedoms of the First Amendment apply to their lives: i.e. if you criticise the press, they don’t apply. It’s an useful lesson that’s been learned over and over the last few years.

P.S.  Related:

CNN political analyst April Ryan believes CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s life was in danger at President Donald Trump’s Tuesday rally in Tampa, Florida.

 

Acosta, who was heckled with “CNN sucks!” chants before Trump appeared on stage, has said he did not feel like he was in America and expressed that he is “very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt.”

 

“That’s a serious moment and a serious place. And Jim Acosta’s life, in my opinion, was in jeopardy that night,” Ryan told CNN host Don Lemon on Wednesday evening. “There was a safety issue.”

I’m reminded of the old saying that fascism is always descending on America but it always lands in Europe. In a similar vein, Acosta & Co continually worry that the Trump anti-media rhetoric will get someone (i.e. a journalist) hurt, but somehow it’s always conservatives who get shot at, assaulted, punched, spat on, screamed at, denied service, boycotted, blacklisted, shadow banned, censored, no platformed and have their property damaged.

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