August 4, 2018

Update: The Newseum announced today, Saturday, Aug. 4, in a release that it will no longer sell "Fake News" items on its website or in its gift shop. Journalists decried the practice and slogan after published the following story on Friday. See the full release here.

If you’re looking to stock up on the famous red hats that bear Donald Trump’s favorite slogan, look no further than the Newseum’s gift shop.

On its website, the interactive news museum in Washington, D.C., sells $14.99 “Make America Great Again” hats alongside American flag accessories and ties that bear the preamble to the Constitution. A T-shirt that says “You are very fake news” sells for $24.99, but it’s on sale for $19.97.

MAGA hat

Fake new shirt
(Screenshots from the Newseum)

If the hat isn’t your style, you can also buy a Trump T-shirt for $24.99.

Trump shirt
(Screenshot from the Newseum)

You don’t have to look very far to see how Trump’s favorite catchphrases are being used to delegitimize the press. At a rally in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday, supporters were sporting “CNN fake news” hats and heckled several members of the press corps.

The seven-level interactive museum is located in the heart of the nation's capital. According to its website, the non-profit museum’s mission is “to increase public understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment.”

In an email to Poynter, Sonya Gavankar, director of public relations for the Newseum, said the merch is an example of how the museum tries to foster an environment that encourages free speech.

“We recognize why you’re asking the question,” she said. “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.

“The MAGA hat and the FBI hat are two of our best-selling items.”

Aside from John F. Kennedy and Benjamin Franklin T-shirts, the MAGA hats and “fake news” shirts are the only apparel catered specifically to a political figure in the Newseum store, although it sells a variety of other political merchandise, such as buttons and books. The  museum also sells an “alternative facts” shirt that defines the term as “a false statement delivered with deliberate intent to mislead or to deceive.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Should we stop saying 'fake news'?

Poynter reached out to the White House Correspondents’ Association but it declined to comment.

A member of the White House press corps who wished to remain anonymous told Poynter in a text message that they don’t think the Newseum should sell any kind of merch with political content — and that the “fake news” apparel is an insult to journalists.

“I go to the Newseum a lot and actually saw these T-shirts previously,” the reporter told Poynter. “I remember commenting to my friend how inappropriate I thought it was to sell this anti-press material at a museum that celebrates our industry.

“'Fake news' is a phrase that undercuts our profession and the hard-working journalists who practice the craft. Selling clothing that is blatantly anti-press further promotes hatred towards journalists.”

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Daniel Funke is a staff writer covering online misinformation for PolitiFact. He previously reported for Poynter as a fact-checking reporter and a Google News Lab…
Daniel Funke

More News

Back to News