Is this newspaper merchandise really ‘anti-President Trump rhetoric’? – Washington Examiner

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The agenda is likely more about padding bottom lines than it is about political biases. (Screengrab/Twitter)

“Fox and Friends” claimed Tuesday morning that a handful of newspapers selling T-shirts with pro-journalism slogans is a clear-cut example of media bias, but the story behind the new merchandise is likely far simpler.

As one source famously told former Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, “Follow the money.”

The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post are currently selling T-shirts and other merchandise bearing pro-journalism slogans.

The L.A. Times’ online store, for example, is selling a shirt that reads, “Journalism Matters #wearenottheenemy.” The hashtag is a clear reference to when President Trump tweeted on Feb. 17, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

The Tribune meanwhile is selling a shirt that reads, “Speaking Truth to Power Since 1847.” The newspaper is also selling mugs that read, “I ❤ my real news from Chicago Tribune,” another clear reference to the press’ tumultuous relationship with the current administration.

Lastly, the Post is selling shirts that bear the paper’s recently unveiled slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

For “Fox and Friends,” which is also the president’s go-to example of supposedly rock-solid journalism, the new merchandise represents “media bias on full display.”

That seems like a lazy and predictable interpretation, and likely misses the real story.

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First, the Post swears its new slogan, which has been described as “ominous,” “awesome,” and “heavy-handed,” has nothing to do with the current administration.

“The Post decided to come up with a slogan nearly a year ago, long before Trump was the Republican presidential nominee,” the paper reported, giving anonymity to its own senior executives, adding the “paper hasn’t had an official slogan in its 140-year existence.”

Post owner and founder Jeff Bezos used the phrase during a forum discussion last May with the paper’s executive editor, Marty Barron. Bezos said he heard the phrase from Woodward, the noted Post reporter who, along with his colleague Carl Bernstein, uncovered the Watergate scandal.

Woodward, for his part, says he first came across the phrase while reading an opinion in a First Amendment case.

“It goes way back,” Woodward said. “It’s definitely not directed at Trump. It’s about the dangers of secrecy in government, which is what I worry about most. The judge who said it got it right.”

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At any rate, the Post maintains its slogan has nothing to do with the current administration.

A spokeswoman for the L.A. Times said elsewhere that her paper’s merchandise is more about defending the industry than attacking the president.

“Members of the Trump administration have called the press the opposition party, suggested that journalists are the enemy of the American people and have been quoted as saying that the media should ‘shut up.’ We disagree,” the paper’s director of communications, Hillary Manning, told the Washington Examiner.

“Our LA Times Store team has created a ‘Free Press’ collection that celebrates a free and independent press, and underscores the LA Times’ commitment to covering the White House, the State Capital and City Hall — just to name a few — without fear or favor,” she added.

One can argue the merchandise is about advancing a certain agenda, but that agenda is likely more about padding bottom lines than it is about political biases.

Being attacked by Trump has proven to be extraordinarily lucrative for newsrooms. Just ask the New York Times or CNN.

It makes sense that newspapers, which have struggled in recent years to attract readers and maintain subscriptions, would try to get a piece of the action.

The new merchandise being sold by the Post, the Times and the Tribune is probably not so much about media bias as it’s about advancing a brand under the guise of defending the industry and the First Amendment.

Trump’s targets in the press have seen their profiles and career opportunities benefit greatly with each new insult and jab (see: Megyn Kelly and Katy Tur). Newspapers would be crazy not to want even a small slice of that pie.

Spokespersons for the Tribune and the Post did not respond to the Examiner’s request for comment.



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