A shirt featuring the words, “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED,” was pulled from Walmart’s website after a media watchdog group asked for its removal.
The T-shirt, which was sold on Walmart.com by third-party seller Teespring.com, could have also been purchased along with a coffee mug with the same slogan.
The letter was sent by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) to the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company and the retailer has swiftly pulled the products.
RTDNA executive director Dan Shelley sent a letter pointing out that the message sent by the shirts could “at the least … 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.”
His query was answered less than five hours later by the Walmart Executive Escalations department.
“We have forwarded this to the appropriate team to remove it," the company said. "Walmart.com does appreciate feedback like this so that offensive material does not appear on our website.”
The media group appreciated the retailer's quick reaction, but was disappointed that the products could find a market.
“We are grateful for Walmart’s swift action, but dismayed that it, and anyone else selling the shirt, would offer such an offensive and inflammatory product,” Shelley said. “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.”
The shirt first gained popularity after a Donald Trump pep rally in 2016.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.