Following a complaint from a news association, Walmart removed from its website a controversial T-shirt that promotes death by hanging for journalists.
The back of the T-shirt says, "Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required."
Walmart pulls T-shirt offered by an outside seller from its online store saying 'Rope. Tree. Journalist.'… https://t.co/tyRg0Exdkt— Toronto Sun (@Toronto Sun)1512072318.0
The item was listed on Walmart.com through a T-shirt marketing company, Teespring, the New York Post reported.
Who requested removal of the T-shirt?
The Radio Television Digital News Association, a journalist advocacy group, sent a letter Nov. 29 to top Walmart executives, asking for the T-shirt to be removed.
“At worst, they openly encourage violence targeting journalists,” RTDNA executive director Dan Shelley wrote. “We believe they are particularly inflammatory within the context of today’s vitriolic political and ideological environment.”
Shelley pointed out in his letter that, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, nearly three dozen journalists have been assaulted in 2017. He also cited figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists revealing that at least 48 journalists have been killed in other countries this year.
How did Walmart respond?
Walmart said the T-shirt clearly violates its marketplace policy.
"This item was sold by a third-party seller on our marketplace and clearly violates our policy," Walmart stated. "We removed it as soon as it was brought to our attention, and are conducting a thorough review of the seller's assortment.”
Teespring told Fox News the shirt was removed, and it is working to prevent the sale of other T-shirts with offensive messages.
In a written response, Shelley expressed gratitude for Walmart's response, Fox News reported.
He went on to urge caution for anyone promoting such products.
“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," Shelley wrote.
What have journalists said about the shirt?
Poynter.org reported the T-shirts also popped up last year during a Donald Trump presidential campaign rally on Nov. 6, 2016. In response, Chris Cobler, editor of the Victoria (Texas) Advocate created his own version of "oppositional T-shirts" for his staff.
"You — and all the journalists I have ever known — get into this demanding profession to make our corner of the world a little bit better place," he said. "Our Founding Fathers felt strongly about what we do, too. We should always remember that our work is enshrined by The First Amendment. That’s both a tremendous honor and obligation."
Cobler's T-shirts read: "First Amendment. Journalist. Your support required."