A US department store says it will remove a “Fake News” T-shirt from sale after a reporter complained on Twitter that it “delegitimises” journalists.
New York-based reporter Allison Kaden from TV station PIX11 tweeted a photo of the offending T-shirt she spotted in a Bloomingdale’s on Sunday afternoon.
“Hey @Bloomingdales, this isn’t funny or fashionable,” she wrote. “It further delegitimizes hard working journalists who bring REAL news to their communities.”
The term initially rose to prominence in the aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election when a number of media outlets claimed “fake news” stories spread via social media had contributed to Donald Trump’s win.
But the US president adopted the term and now frequently uses it to attack news outlets and journalists for perceived unfair coverage of his administration, referring to fake news as “the enemy of the people”.
A Pew Research poll in September 2018 found more than two-thirds of Americans believe the media are biased, with that figure rising to 86 per cent among Republicans.
A Gallup poll around the same time found the majority of Americans have lost trust in the media over the past decade, largely due to inaccuracy and bias.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention and we apologize for any offense we may have caused. We take this feedback very seriously and are working quickly to remove this t-shirt. Again, thank you for taking the time to alert us.
— Bloomingdale’s (@Bloomingdales) February 11, 2019
Hi, @bloomingdales. Apologizing “for any offense we may have caused” is not a sincere apology. This is not about journalists’ hurt feelings. This is about damage done to our democracy when your brand joins in perpetuating and celebrating the idea of “fake news.” Please try again.
— Pamela Wood (@pwoodreporter) February 11, 2019
I’m offended by the word “bloom” in your name. Will you change it, or do I need a blue checkmark for you to cave on all your principles?
— Courtney Kirchoff (@Courtneyscoffs) February 12, 2019
You just got triggered by a t-shirt.
— J Owen Shroyer (@allidoisowen) February 12, 2019
Hi @Bloomingdales. Don’t run your business based on social media outrage which are usually anyway short term and are mostly not from your real clients. Besides, real journalists are proud to denounce FakeNews. In fact, they created this term against Trump’s FakeNews of 2016.
— Yossi Gestetner (@YossiGestetner) February 12, 2019
Kaden’s tweet was shared more than 1600 times and received more than 5200 likes. Bloomingdale’s responded on Monday, thanking the journalist and promising the remove the shirt.
“Thank you for bringing this to our attention and we apologise for any offence we may have caused,” the company tweeted. “We take this feedback very seriously and are working quickly to remove this T-shirt. Again, thank you for taking the time to alert us.”
While fellow journalists supported the move, not everyone was happy. “This T-shirt has zero ability to further delegitimize hard working journalists,” one Twitter user wrote. “Journalists are working hard to that every day.”
Some noted that journalists now appeared to be a “protected class”, after a wave of users were banned from Twitter in recent weeks for telling recently laid-off staff at BuzzFeed, Huffington Post and Vice to “learn to code”.
The meme, spread by right-wing Twitter users and Trump supporters, is a reference to numerous articles in left-wing media outlets over the past decade suggesting out-of-work coal miners should “learn to code”.
Twitter justified the ban by claiming that tweeting “learn to code” at laid-off journalists constituted “targeted harassment”, in violation of the site’s rules.
— Fuzzy Chimp (@fuzzychimpcom) February 12, 2019