Walmart Pulls Threatening T-shirts After Complaint From Journalism Group

December 1, 2017 Updated: December 1, 2017    

Walmart has pulled a controversial T-shirt that seemed to incite violence against journalists after complaints surfaced.

The retailer made the decision after a recent letter was sent to them from a journalism advocacy group called the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).

The design on the shirt included text with a simple message: “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.” The controversial text references hanging—possibly lynching—journalists.

According to NPR, the shirt was being sold by Walmart through a third-party seller company called Teespring. Walmart removed the shirt from their website soon after being notified.

In the Wednesday, Nov. 29 letter, RTDNA Executive Director Dan Shelley, pointed out that the message sent by the shirts could “at the least … 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.”

Just less than five hours later, Shelley said he received an email from the Walmart Executive Escalations department that said in part: “We have forwarded this to the appropriate team to remove it. Walmart.com does appreciate feedback like this so that offensive material does not appear on our website.”

NTD checked the website and confirmed that the shirt had been removed from Walmart.com.

A spokesperson for Walmart told NPR that the shirt “clearly violates our policy” and that the company is also reviewing all the products it sells from Teespring.

“We are grateful for Walmart’s swift action, but dismayed that it, and anyone else selling the shirt, would offer such an offensive and inflammatory product,” Shelley said. “We live in an environment in which political and ideological discourse has deteriorated to the level where some find it appropriate to advocate violence targeting journalists merely for performing their Constitutionally-guaranteed duty to seek and report the truth,” he added.

In an updated tweet, RTDNA said that less than 24 hours after Walmart removed the shirt from its website, Teespring.com also removed it from their site as well.

When NTD checked Teespring’s page on Friday, Dec. 1, the shirt had been replaced by a message stating: “This campaign is no longer available due to content issues. Sorry about that. Please contact us if you think this is a mistake!”

According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, which RTDNA is a founding partner of, at least 35 journalists have been physically attacked in the U.S. so far during 2017. Thirty-two more have been arrested.

“We recognize that under the First Amendment, companies have a right to sell, and consumers have a right to purchase, these shirts. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do, especially in today’s vitriolic climate,” Shelley said in the letter.

 

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From NTD.tv

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