Update: The National Archives did issue an apology, which you can read about here.
The National Archives made a decision that destroyed their integrity when they blurred images that were critical of Donald Trump.
According to The Washington Post:
The large color photograph that greets visitors to a National Archives exhibit celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage shows a massive crowd filling Pennsylvania Avenue NW for the Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Trump’s inauguration.
The 49-by-69-inch photograph is a powerful display. Viewed from one perspective, it shows the 2017 march. Viewed from another angle, it shifts to show a 1913 black-and-white image of a women’s suffrage march also on Pennsylvania Avenue. The display links momentous demonstrations for women’s rights more than a century apart on the same stretch of pavement.
The Archives acknowledged in a statement this week that it made multiple alterations to the photo of the 2017 Women’s March showcased at the museum, blurring signs held by marchers that were critical of Trump. Words on signs that referenced women’s anatomy were also blurred.
The irony of the National Archives honoring women’s sufferage by silencing women through doctored photographs shouldn’t be lost on anyone. The National Archives claimed that they were removing language inappropriate for children from the photos, and attempting to avoid political controversy, but they made a partisan political decision and harmed their integrity in the process.
A national archive exists so that images and other materials are preserved for history in their original form. An archive that alters and doctors information isn’t a trusted source.
As Chris Lu tweeted:
Today's Rosenstein and Archives stories are the latest examples of how govt officials bend to appease a vengeful president. Over time, these seemingly small actions erode the guardrails of democracy, and we devolve into a country built around one person, instead of norms and laws
— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) January 18, 2020
There was a much easier way around this problem. The Archive should have used a different and unaltered picture.
When they decided to doctor images, the National Archives violated the trust of the public to keep Trump happy. Instead of silencing women and critics of Trump, The Archives should apologize, pledge to learn from this episode and work to regain the trust that they have lost.
A decision to doctor images critical of Donald Trump was a political decision that violated the central mission of the organization. The National Archives sold itself out to protect Trump.
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Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association