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The Guardians of Democracy

National Archives Sparks Backlash After Blurring Images Critical Of President Trump

Authoritarianism

National Archives Sparks Backlash After Blurring Images Critical Of President Trump




The National Archives has apologized for altering a photo of the 2017 Women’s March, including blurring out protest signs criticizing President Trump, to promote an exhibit honoring the women’s suffrage movement.

Among the alterations are the blotting out of the word “Trump” in a placard that reads “God Hates Trump” and the blurring of the same word in another sign that reads “Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women.”

Words on other signs referencing female anatomy were also altered.



The Archives said the decision to blur certain words was made as an exhibit featuring the march was being developed.

The agency said the archivist, David Ferriero, who was appointed by former President Obama in 2009 and who was involved in the talks, supported the decision.

“As a non-partisan, non-political federal agency, we blurred references to the President’s name on some posters, so as not to engage in current political controversy,” Archives spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman said in a statement to The Washington Post.

“Our mission is to safeguard and provide access to the nation’s most important federal records, and our exhibits are one way in which we connect the American people to those records. Modifying the image was an attempt on our part to keep the focus on the records,” Kleiman added.

The Archives “only alters images in exhibits when they are used as graphic design components,” she said.

“We do not alter images or documents that are displayed as artifacts in exhibitions,” Kleiman added. “In this case, the image is part of a promotional display, not an artifact.”

Historians interviewed by the Post expressed disappointment with the decision, saying it was misleading.




“There’s no reason for the National Archives to ever digitally alter a historic photograph,” Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley said. “If they don’t want to use a specific image, then don’t use it. But to confuse the public is reprehensible. The head of the Archives has to very quickly fix this damage. A lot of history is messy, and there’s zero reason why the Archives can’t be upfront about a photo from a women’s march.”

After facing backlash for their decision, the National Archives issued an apology Saturday.

“We made a mistake,” the tweeted apology read. “As the National Archives of the United States, we are and have always been completely committed to preserving our archival holdings, without alteration.”





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