The Newseum has removed controversial “fake news” T-shirts from its gift shop after they set off a wave of criticism from journalists.
The Washington, D.C. museum, which is dedicated to all things media and the First Amendment, was as of Saturday morning selling shirts that said “You Are Very Fake News” in its store. But in a statement provided to TIME Saturday afternoon, museum spokesperson Sonya Gavankar said the shirts are no longer for sale.
“The Newseum has removed the ‘You Are Very Fake News’ t-shirts from the gift shop and online. We made a mistake and we apologize,” Gavankar said by email. “A free press is an essential part of our democracy and journalists are not the enemy of the people.”
Gavankar stood by the shirts in a previous statement provided to CNN, calling them “tongue-in-cheek” and a “satirical rebuke” of the phrase, which was seemingly a nod to President Donald Trump’s frequent accusation that stories that appear in the mainstream media are “fake news.”
Many journalists felt differently, and reacted negatively to the shirts when they were for sale. Multiple people suggested that the shirts were simply a disrespectful way for the financially-beleaguered museum to make money.
The museum sells a range of political gear in its gift shop, including “Make America Great Again” hats, American flag paraphernalia and a Constitution tie. In her second statement, Gavankar suggested that these items will not be removed.
“Questions have also been raised regarding other merchandise. As an organization that celebrates the rights of people from all political spectrums to express themselves freely, we’ve historically made all types of political merchandise available for our guests to purchase,” she said. “That has included former and current presidential slogans and imagery and merchandise from all political parties. We continue to do so in celebration of freedom of speech.”
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