Bloomingdale’s recently learned that context often changes the seemingly mundane into a potential trigger for outrage. Now, it’s quite normal for people to find a shirt, not to their liking. If everyone enjoyed every item of clothing equally then there’d be no need for fashion in the first place. Clothing is an inherently personal experience that interacts with our personal sense of taste. However, one disgruntled customer decided to go on a crusade against one of Bloomingdale’s products. The item in question is a shirt that reads “Fake News” in a fancy font. Someone who’s not very familiar with the American political scene might find this reaction to be rather surprising. After all, how could a rather broad statement about news be worth fighting a major retailer over? But those who do know about American politics will almost certainly understand why the phrase could spark someone’s ire.
The term “fake news” is typically associated with one of the most controversial presidents in America’s long history. Donald Trump brought the phrase to national attention and has become somewhat synonymous with it. Some people dislike the term simply because of the fact that they dislike the man who popularized it. However, it’s a little more personal for others. The customer in question, Allison Kaden, was so taken aback by the shirt that she instantly snapped a picture of it while she was shopping. Kaden wrote that the shirt was neither funny nor fashionable. The disgruntled customer added that it might delegitimize hard-working journalists working to bring real news to their communities. This might seem like a surprising reaction at first. However, things become a little more understandable when looking at Kaden’s profession. She’s actually a journalist herself. This creates a rather difficult situation for Bloomingdale since it also means she has some extra clout and notoriety. As such it’s not too surprising that the store responded to her tweet. The shirts were removed from both the physical locations and Bloomingdale’s online store within hours. It’s a surprising reaction given that the shirts were fairly high priced for an otherwise plain t-shirt.
Bloomingdale’s followed up with an apology. The store apologized for any offense they may have caused by selling the shirt. Not everyone was happy with the apology though. Another journalist from the area, Pamela Wood, stated that it wasn’t a sincere apology. She pointed out that the store was apologizing for hurting the feelings of journalists while ignoring the damage they might have caused with the shirt. The reporter alleges that perpetuating the concept of “fake news” damages American democracy as a whole. Not every journalist agrees with these two reporters’ take on the subject. A reporter at the Washington times pointed out that a journalist ultimately has a responsibility to defend free speech. The reporter goes on to mention that this is true even in cases where we might be offended by the content delivered by that free speech. The reporter closes by stating that Kaden’s behavior is shameful. Some people also feel that words and apologies aren’t needed. They believe that the store does need to take action. But they feel that this should take the form of restocking the shirts in Bloomingdale’s stores. The pundits on The Five, part of Fox News, brought up the story and mentioned that they feel it should be sold in the store again. It remains to be seen how Bloomingdale will ultimately deal with the situation.