Walmart pulls controversial t-shirt that suggests violence toward journalists

Posted: Updated:
(Screengrab of Walmart's website/@ReutersZengerle on Twitter) (Screengrab of Walmart's website/@ReutersZengerle on Twitter)

(Meredith) -- America’s largest retailer has pulled a t-shirt bearing the message “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED” from its website after the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) sent a message to Walmart alerting them to the shirt’s controversial content.

The shirt was also sold in the online store of a company called Teespring, who was acting as the third-party seller for Walmart’s online listing of the product. Teespring has since removed the shirt from its website.

A spokesperson for Walmart told NPR the t-shirt violated their policies, and that the company would review all of Teespring’s offerings on Walmart’s website.

The shirt, seemingly a suggestion to lynch of journalists, went viral a couple days before 2016’s presidential election when a Reuters photojournalist posted a picture of a man wearing the shirt in a crowd of Trump supporters.

The shirt was circulating well before that, though, Jezebel reported last year. They found a tweet referencing the shirt from April of 2009.

This isn’t the first time Teespring, which allows users to design their own t-shirts and other merchandise, has come under fire for selling shirts that stirred controversy.

A shirt with the words “Black women are trash” prompted outrage in May of 2017 when links to buy the shirts on Teespring’s site appeared on social media and went viral, USA Today reported. The company blamed a human error in the code of the site for the offensive shirts not being automatically removed.

In August of 2017, The Times of Israel wrote that Teespring was selling shirts featuring rainbow swastikas. The company that designed them, KA Design, was apparently trying to reclaim the symbol’s meaning before it was appropriated by Nazism. They said in a video on Facebook the swastika means “love” and “life.”

Metro reported in October of 2017 that a shirt emblazoned with “Eat Sleep Rape Repeat” was not just being sold on Teespring’s site, it was marked as a “best selling tank/shirt.”