National Archives Blurred Out Anti-Trump Messages In Women's March Photo

An official told The Washington Post it was only a "promotional display." Critics said that didn't make the changes OK.
An altered version of this photo of the 2017 Women's March is on display at the National Archives.
An altered version of this photo of the 2017 Women's March is on display at the National Archives.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

In a stunning revelation, officials of the National Archives have admitted that a photo of the 2017 Women’s March was altered to blur out signs with messages critical of President Donald Trump and words referring to the female anatomy, The Washington Post reported.

Changes to the photo, displayed in an archives exhibit marking the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, included blocking out the name “Trump” in a sign that read “God Hates Trump.” The resulting message said simply: “God Hates.” The president’s name was also deliberately blurred in a sign reading “Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women.”

Words on other signs referring to female genitals were also altered, according to the Post. The word “vagina” was obliterated in a sign reading: “If my vagina could shoot bullets, it’d be less REGULATED.” The word “pussy” was removed from another message reading: “This Pussy Grabs Back.” The latter sign was a reference to Trump’s recorded boast about getting away with grabbing women “by the pussy.”

At least four signs were altered by the federal agency that touts itself as “the nation’s record keeper,” according to the Post.

“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 newspaper.

As for eliminating references to female genitals, those words could be perceived as inappropriate, according to Kleiman.

The picture by Getty Images photographer Mario Tama, which was blown up to 49 inches by 69 inches for the exhibit, was taken at the Women’s March in Washington on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration.

David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States appointed in 2009 by President Barack Obama, reportedly participated in talks about the display and supported the decision to change the photo.

Furious critics complained that the National Archives is supposed to be a reliable record of reality.

Doctoring an image honoring women’s rights is particularly disturbing, Purdue history professor Wendy Kline said in an email to the Post. It “buys right into the notion that it’s okay to silence women’s voice and actions,” she wrote. “It is literally erasing something that was accurately captured on camera. That’s an attempt to erase a powerful message.”

Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley told the Post that “there’s no reason for the National Archives to ever digitally alter a historic photograph. If they don’t want to use a specific image, then don’t use it. But to confuse the public is reprehensible.”

Kleiman said the mission of the archives is to “safeguard and provide access to the nation’s most important federal records.” She noted that this version of the photo was being shown as part of a “promotional display,” not as an actual artifact or original document.

Critics of the move erupted on Twitter.

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