A supposedly humorous T-shirt that suggested reporters should be lynched was on sale at Walmart.com until an objection caused the retailer to take it down.
The $18.99 shirt said: “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.”
The Radio Television Digital News Association said Thursday that its Voice of the First Amendment Task Force sent a letter to Walmart executives asking them to remove the shirt. It had been offered on Walmart’s site by a third-party novelty seller, Teespring.com.
“According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, of which RTDNA is a founding partner, nearly three dozen journalists have been physically assaulted so far this year across the country merely for performing their Constitutionally-guaranteed duty to seek and report the truth,” said the letter from RTDNA executive director Dan Shelley. “It is our belief that at the least, T-Shirts or any other items bearing such words simply inflame the passions of those who either don’t like, or don’t understand, the news media. At worst, they openly encourage violence targeting journalists. We believe they are particularly inflammatory within the context of today’s vitriolic political and ideological environment.”
That environment includes repeated assertions by President Donald Trump that critical news coverage of him or his policies is “fake news.”
The letter recognizes Walmart’s right to sell such merchandise.
“However, just because Walmart has the right to sell the shirts, that doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do.”
RTDNA said the reply it received was that Walmart.com “does not appreciate feedback like this” and the T-shirt was removed.
Walmart, apparently, doesn’t need tweets like these:
The controversial slogan about journalists, ropes and trees is not new. It showed up at some political rallies during the 2016 presidential election.