The National Archives, a government agency that preserves important historical documents in the United States, faced intense backlash after it was revealed that it had altered an image in order to remove some anti-Donald Trump signs at a rally in 2017. Now, the agency is reversing course after admitting that they had made a mistake.
The controversy began, as The Inquisitr previously reported, after the Washington Post wrote a story about the National Archives blurring out signs that were critical of the president in an image being displayed at the museum showing thousands of people marching in Washington D.C. on the day after Trump’s inauguration.
In the original photo, a sign saying “God Hates Trump” is visible, but in the photo at the Archives, “Trump” has been blurred out. Another sign read “Trump & GOP – Hands Off Women,” where again, Trump’s name was blurred out. Other signs were blurred to remove references to female anatomy.
In response, a spokesperson for the National Archives said that the sign, which was taken by a photographer for Getty Images, was not part of the artifacts, but rather a promotional image they were using to celebrate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. But after the story brought attention to the issue, the government agency admitted that it had made a mistake and promised to correct it, as CNN reported.
“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,” a spokesperson for the government agency said.
Critics argued that the move was an attempt to alter history by a government agency charged with preserving it.
“The National Archives is now whitewashing history,” said former national security adviser Susan Rice.
We made a mistake.
As the National Archives of the United States, we are and have always been completely committed to preserving our archival holdings, without alteration. pic.twitter.com/VTWOS4R7GY
— US National Archives (@USNatArchives) January 18, 2020
“We have removed the current display and will replace it as soon as possible with one that uses the unaltered image,” the agency wrote.
“We apologize, and will immediately start a thorough review of our exhibit policies and procedures so that this does not happen again.”
The National Archives and Records Administration was founded in 1934 by former President Franklin Roosevelt. In 1985, the agency was made independent, which means it doesn’t fall under the control of the president as some other agencies do. As such, the president has limited power to influence or dismiss the head of the agency.