The Truth About the ‘Together We Thrive’ T-Shirts at the Tucson Memorial


Among attempts by some conservatives to cast last night’s “Together We Thrive” memorial for victims of the massacre in Tucson in a negative light were suggestions that the White House was involved in designing and distributing t-shirts at the event. While that notion has already been partially debunked, we looked into the rumors, and besides a frank denial from the White House, we’ve uncovered some relevant details about the shirts, which were, infact, distributed by the University of Arizona.

This type of smear is nothing new, and despite the apparent absurdity of the claim, I checked with the White House, anyway. A senior administration official confirmed the widely-reported fact that the administration had nothing to do with the shirts.

University of Arizona spokesperson Jennifer Fitzenberger told me that the shirts were, indeed, provided by the University. “The University wanted to give people something to remember that symbolized community spirit and continued the event’s positive energy into the future,” she said.

According to Fitzenberger, the shirts were designed by a University of Arizona student, and they cost about $60,000. “The University will pay for them,” she noted. “No tuition, state allocations, tax dollars or student fees will be used.”

Many have also wondered how the shirts were produced so quickly. According to Fitzenberger, “The UA BookStores made the arrangements to produce the shirts. The BookStores knew a vendor that could turn them around fast.”

So, there you have it. Nothing sinister, by the Democratic President, or the Republican Governor of Arizona. Just a student and a school trying to give people a piece of the memorial that they could keep.

Update: Some on the right continues to grasp at anything it can to try and demean what was a moment for people to come together. The latest is a widely-circulated post from the Fire Andrea Mitchell blog entitled “‘Together We Thrive’ slogan first used by Obama’s Organizing for America February of 2008.” See if you can spot the lies:

Hey. don’t take my word for it. Check it out at the Organizing for America blog archive. Oh, and in case the Obama regime  that this has gotten out and decides to  this page,Free Republic has a screen shot. Yes, this is the same slogan that was on all those t-shirts passed out to the cheering section for Obama last night at the basketball arena.

The post links to a blog on (now called Organizing for America) that uses “Together We Thrive” as its headline. At the bottom of that blog, of course, is the tidbit that makes this entire premise a lie:

Content on blogs in My.BarackObama represents the opinions of community members and in no way should be interpreted as endorsed or approved by the campaign.

As the promoters of this lie well know, was a user-controlled forum, and this blogger had as much to do OFA as one of our commenters has to do with Mediaite.

Not only that, but using a phrase (which has already been used on t-shirts, by the way) as a headline does not constitute a “slogan.”

I should add that there are also prominent conservatives who resist these smears and lies, including Ed Morrissey. To his credit, Ed debunks this t-shirt meme in spite of the fact that it was started by his own mentor, former Hot Air owner Michelle Malkin. Ed proves that yes, we can disagree without being disagreeable.

Have a tip we should know?

Filed Under: