CNN's Whitfield Frets 'Iconic' 'God Hates Trump' Sign Was Censored

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Saturday's CNN Newsroom, weekend anchor Fredricka Whitfield touted "shock and outrage" over the National Archives blurring part of a sign from the annual anti-Trump Women's March declaring "God hates Trump." Lauding the photograph of the sign as an "iconic image," Whitfield seemed surprised when Bernice King -- daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- was critical of the sign itself and not so much of the National Archives for censoring it.

In a plug before a commercial at 12:28 p.m. Eastern, Whitfield hyped: "Shock and outrage over a doctored photo from the 2017 Women's March. The National Archives accused of altering history by erasing images in a picture."

At 1:17 p.m., Whitfield set up the discussion with King by replaying part of an interview with historian Wendy Kline of Purdue University, who was outraged over the National Archives blurring the word "Trump" from photographs of the "God hates Trump" sign. The CNN host then brought aboard King as her guest, and tried to cue her up to attack the censorship of the sign:

WHITFIELD: So when you see an image -- what has become an iconic image of the 2017 gathering of a million people, you know, from coast to coast, for this Women's March, and you see it doctored, and it is at, you know, the Archives -- the National Archives -- what's your reaction to the Archives doctoring an image, a depiction of history.

But King did not play along with the premise of Whitfield's question as she complained about the sign instead:

BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: You know, I can't, I'm not an archivist, so I can't speak to, you know, the importance of making sure documents have their historical accuracy, so I can respect whatever opinion that they give in regard to that. When I look at the image, period, I'm disturbed by the image itself. Because "God" and "hate" can't go in the same paragraph or sentence. God is love, so God would never hate anyone who even is a hater or people call them racist or evil, because God is love. God's desire is that everyone would come to a certain place.

Whitfield followed up by trying again to get King to criticize the censorship as the CNN host likened it to those who tried to censor Dr. King during the Civil Rights Movement:

WHITFIELD; So in that picture, one of the posters that was held up, it said -- the reality of that moment is someone has an image that says "God hates Trump," and the image you see here on the right of your screen, the censored portion -- the name Trump was taken out. And there were other references is there were other -- there was another poster that said, you know, "Trump and GOP -- hands off women," and the name "Trump" was kind of blurred out. So, you know, the dispute is over whether it was appropriate, you know, to, whether it's an attempt to erase history or change, you know, a documentation that shows a moment of history. You know, your dad and foot soldiers alongside him dealt with all kinds of other efforts to erase their efforts -- change history -- distort the truth. Do you see a parallel here?

King responded by again being critical of stating that God "hates" anyone, and then, rather than complaining about the censorship by the National Archives, spoke generally about the need to preserve history.

When Whitfield had spoken earlier with Purdue's Professor Kline, she gave a response more in line with what the CNN host seemed to be looking for:

PROFESSOR WENDY KLINE, PURDUE UNIVERSITY: As a historian, I was shocked. We place so much value on the artifact -- on the historic documents that we work with -- and the idea that there would be any messing with any primary source documents was shocking to me.

Below are transcripts of relevant portions of the Saturday, January 18, CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield:

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD ( IN PLUG AT 12:28 P.M. EASTERN): Shock and outrage over a doctored photo from the 2017 Women's March. The National Archives accused of altering history by erasing images in a picture.

(...)

WHITFIELD (1:17 P.M.): So this event began in 2017 right after President Trump's inauguration. That's when one million people -- many of them wearing pink hats -- turned out for marches nationwide. A photo of the protests from that day is now at the center of growing controversy. The National Archives is acknowledging that it has made alterations to a picture of that protest that greets visitors at an exhibit on women's suffrage. According to a report in the Washington Post, the National Archives blurred signs in the picture that are critical of President Trump, and may be deemed inappropriate for some audiences. Moments ago, we spoke with an historian who was stunned with the changes made to the photograph.

PROFESSOR WENDY KLINE, PURDUE UNIVERSITY: As a historian, I was shocked. We place so much value on the artifact -- on the historic documents that we work with -- and the idea that there would be any messing with any primary source documents was shocking to me.

(...)

WHITFIELD: So when you see an image -- what has become an iconic image of the 2017 gathering of a million people, you know, from coast to coast, for this Women's March, and you see it doctored, and it is at, you know, the Archives -- the National Archives -- what's your reaction to the Archives doctoring an image, a depiction of history.

BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: You know, I can't, I'm not an archivist, so I can't speak to, you know, the importance of making sure documents have their historical accuracy, so I can respect whatever opinion that they give in regard to that. When I look at the image, period, I'm disturbed by the image itself.

WHITFIELD: What do you mean?

KING: Because "God" and "hate" can't go in the same paragraph or sentence. God is love, so God would never hate anyone who even is a hater or people call them racist or evil, because God is love. God's desire is that everyone would come to a certain place.

WHITFIELD; So in that picture, one of the posters that was held up, it said -- the reality of that moment is someone has an image that says "God hates Trump," and the image you see here on the right of your screen, the censored portion -- the name Trump was taken out. And there were other references is there were other -- there was another poster that said, you know, "Trump and GOP -- hands off women," and the name "Trump" was kind of blurred out. So, you know, the dispute is over whether it was appropriate, you know, to, whether it's an attempt to erase history or change, you know, a documentation that shows a moment of history. You know, your dad and foot soldiers alongside him dealt with all kinds of other efforts to erase their efforts -- change history -- distort the truth. Do you see a parallel here?

KING: You said my father and them faced efforts to erase history?

WHITFIELD: There were people and factions who wanted to erase, whether it be progress, moments of history that your dad was involved in that other foot soldiers were involved in.

KING: Yeah, no, I get that. I think it's important to reflect history, but I also think it's important that we challenge people in reflecting history, another truth. That's why I said I had to speak to the truth of "God  hates" because God does not hate. That's all I was speaking to. But, yes, reflecting truth is very important, and we should not erase it because if you erase it, we repeat it. And so history is so important for people to learn from -- to extract from -- to have dialogue about.

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