The Newseum, a 21-year-old Washington, D.C., attraction that describes its mission as “to increase public understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment,” came under fire late this week when it was reported that it was selling gift-shop items that appeared at odds with that stated vocation. For one, a “fake news” T-shirt.
“We recognize why you’re asking [about the contentious nature of some items on sale at the store],” a Newseum representative reportedly told the nonprofit journalism and education organization Poynter, explaining that the interactive museum is nonpartisan and wishes people of all political persuasions to “feel comfortable.” It said it sought to champion not only a free press but free speech. “Make America Great Again” and FBI hats, the representative added, “are two of our best-selling items.”
On Saturday, the Newseum put out a statement indicating that it would cease selling online and in its physical store the “You Are Very Fake News” baseball-undershirt-style garment, whose lettering loosely mimicked that of the CNN logo.
The museum defended its continued sale of other politically tinged items, according to Poynter, “as a celebration of free speech.”