Today in "wait, what?," the Newseum is selling Make America Great Again and Fake News-branded merchandise.
Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., the Newseum bills itself as an interactive museum that promotes free expression and the First Amendment. The journalism museum is intended "to increase public understanding of the importance of a free press," according to its website.
But as Poynter first reported, its gift shop is selling some items that are less-than-friendly towards the free press.
Right now at the Newseum's online store, consumers can purchase a "You Are Very Fake News" raglan long sleeve shirt (originally $24.99 but now discounted at the low, low price of $19.97), a red MAGA cap for $14.99, and a $24.99 ladies' t-shirt emblazoned with the definition of an "Alternative Fact" ("a false statement delivered with deliberate intent to mislead or deceive," in case you were wondering).
Less conspicuous is a jersey-style t-shirt featuring a 17 on the back and a pocket-sized flag with "Great Again" written below, called the "Adult Trump Great Again Tee" and selling for $24.99.
Sonya Gavankar, director of public relations for the Newseum, told Ad Age in an email that "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."
Still, the news comes just one day after United Nations experts warned that the president's consistent anti-press rhetoric could be putting journalists in harm's way.
Indeed, reporters on Twitter are not impressed.
This is a very bad idea @Newseum -- you exist to honor, examine and protect the news media, not embrace the bywords by which others seek to undermine it. https://t.co/DBt3kfIPpA— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) August 3, 2018
No fucking way @Newseum— Adam Davidson (@adamdavidson) August 3, 2018
You sell "Fake News" shirts and call it part of your commitment to free speech?
No. Just no. https://t.co/wzqwx32jR9
.@Newseum, as a reporter, you just lost my business.— Tara Copp (@TaraCopp) August 3, 2018
Your "fake news" t-shirts aren't funny, @Newseum— Leigh Giangreco (@LeighGiangreco) August 3, 2018
They make a mockery of the reporters, whose names you have inscribed on your walls, who died for their vocation.
You have got to be fucking kidding me. @Newseum https://t.co/gO3B99FdcP— Jacob Dean (@SchadenJake) August 3, 2018
The Newseum has been struggling financially in recent years. The 10-year-old museum has suffered from debt and inadequate fundraising, and operated at an $8.2 million loss in 2016, according to the Washington Post.
The Newseum says this is about championing "free speech." The more cynical read: The museum is deep in debt, strapped for cash, and tourists like these trinkets https://t.co/owVMLS3xSb— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 3, 2018
Gavankar didn't respond to requests to comment further on the discrepancy between the merchandise and the Newseum's purpose. So in lieu of her comment, we'll leave you with this sassy tweet from a Washington Post columnist:
Next up: Air and Space museum selling coffee mugs that say the moon landing was a hoax. https://t.co/bZHQg2pOFv— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) August 3, 2018