Walmart Removed A Controversial T-Shirt About Lynching Journalists After a Complaint

Walmart pulled a highly controversial T-shirt from their website that read “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED” after the Radio Television Digital News Association called them out on the big problem with the shirt’s message, reports NPR.

Walmart was selling the shirt with a company called Teespring that acted as a third-party seller, according to the RTDNA. Within the day of being notified, the shirt was gone. A Walmart spokesperson said the shirt “clearly violates our policy,” and that the company is taking a good, hard look at all the other products it sells from Teespring.

The shirt’s appearance on Walmart’s website prompted a swift reaction from the RTDNA, who sent a letter to inform the retail giant of the potential damage the shirt’s message could promote. RTDNA Executive Director Dan Shelley wrote that “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. . . T-shirts or any other items bearing such words 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.”

While the RTDNA did acknowledge Walmart is technically within their legal rights to continue selling the shirt, it “doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.”

The shirt has been around for awhile, unfortunately. It first gained attention and notoriety last November when a Reuters photographer snapped a picture of a man wearing the shirt at a meeting of Trump supporters two days before the presidential election.

The photo gained quite a bit of attention because it followed numerous reports of journalists being assaulted or harassed while reporting on the campaign trail in 2016. Months later, President Trump would escalate his ongoing scuffle with media outlets like The New York Times by calling them “the enemy of the American people" on Twitter.

 

Shortly after the photo gained infamy last November, The Daily Beast reported the shirt had been taken down from Teespring’s site. It came back around a week ago, selling for $22.95 with the promise that it would arrive by Christmas time. The shirt has also been removed from the Teespring site. In its place sits a message that says the shirt is “no longer available due to content issues.”

It’s not the first item to be taken down from Teespring’s website. A large number of other shirts were removed earlier in August for bearing designs including “a swastika.” The site says it “does not support or allow hate speech on our platform,” which is included in their terms of service.