Some news folks have no sense of history

Merchandise pulled at Newseum (Newseum pix via Ad Age)

Proprietors of the Newseum in Washington could use a history lesson and a sense of humor.

Over the weekend the Newseum, which is dedicated to commemorating a free press and the First Amendment, pulled merchandise off the shelves that included T-shirts that proclaimed “You Are Very Fake News” and “Alternative Fact — a false statement delivered with deliberate intent to mislead or deceive,” as well as caps that read “Make America Great Again.”

“We made a mistake and we apologize,” Sonya Gavankar, director of public relations for the journalism museum, wrote in a statement emailed to Ad Age. “A free press is an essential part of our democracy and journalists are not the enemy of the people.”

A couple of days earlier, Gavankar had sent an email to Ad Age saying, “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.”

But Twitterdom lit up with profanity-laced criticism, such as: “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.” The Newseum caved.

Perhaps someone should explain the term “reappropriation” to those at the Newseum and on Twitter.

That’s when someone calls you a pejorative name, you embrace it. The Brits called Americans Yankees, a term used by the British to refer to Dutch pirates, but Americans proudly adopted it. When people called Southerners red necks, they embraced the term. When the Society of Friends were dubbed Quakers, they latched onto it. Likewise terms like Cavalier, Tory, Whig, Paddy and Methodist.

Reappropriation is a time-honored method of turning the tables on those who taunt you.

Lighten up already. Laugh at those who denigrate you by laughing at yourself.



15 comments on “Some news folks have no sense of history

  1. Rincon says:

    Sounds to me like the merchandise was making fun of the Trump Administration, not the media. Has Trump gotten to them too?

  2. Bill says:

    How hypocritical. An organization ostensibly dedicated to free speech, just caved to social media assaults on free speech and expression from the fascists on the left.

    Change the name to from newseum to quod nauseum.

  3. Steve says:

    Welcome to the USA, what are we offended by today?

    And, thanks for all the FUD!

  4. Rincon says:

    So now you think that free speech includes feeling compelled to push somebody else’s agenda? Why would a museum that celebrates the news media promote a propaganda campaign making false claims against the same media?

  5. No, not compelled. But not cowed by humorless drudges either.

  6. Rincon says:

    The Newseum selling these goods sounds a little like the NAACP selling KKK baseball caps. Are we sure that the “humorless drudges” didn’t merely alert the management of the Newseum as to what was going on?

  7. Alerting or badgering? Badgering.

    A couple of days earlier, Gavankar had sent an email to Ad Age saying, “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.”

  8. Steve says:

    If the NAACP could make money selling KKK caps, who the hell are we to tell them they cannot do it?

  9. Rincon says:

    We can tell them anything we want. If they did sell them, they would be fools, same as the Newseum if they sold material opposed to their cause. As Ad Age said, “…its gift shop is selling some items that are less-than-friendly towards the free press”.

    Gavankar’s mistake was to confuse keeping those products on the shelves with some sort of defense of free speech. Stocking items that are against your mission is stupidity. Free speech doesn’t mean promoting your enemies’ viewpoints. She initially failed to recognize it and belatedly corrected her mistake.

  10. Bill says:

    But Rincon, the Newseum’s purpose ought to be preserving and promoting free speech.

    Here they caved to pressure from those who objected to a particular form of the expression.

    Any paradox that you can see here?

  11. Steve says:

    The purpose of the gift shop is to bring in revenue. If you insist on preventing them selling product, any product, you become responsible for providing them the lost revenue.

    Get your wallet out and be “liberal” with your “donation”. The US left is becoming indistinguishable from fascists.

  12. Rincon says:

    Really? Sounds like you’re saying that free speech means being beyond persuasion. Does it occur to you that the Newseum has nothing to fear from its critics? Nobody held a gun to their heads.
    Why have you decided that they’ve been cowed? The simple truth is that the merchandise condemns the very news media that the Newseum honors.

  13. Steve says:

    Owning the name instead of cowering before the accusation is a powerful way of beating the opposition. Making money with it is even better.

  14. Steve says:

    Hell, Rincon, there’s even a name for this. It’s precisely what happened here.

    Streisand Effect.

  15. Rincon says:

    I agree. This is a tempest in a teapot.

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