Young reporter fired by AP after old Facebook post resurfaces

Journalist, Emily Wilder sacked by AP over allegedly biased Facebook post

AP

A young Arizona-based reporter who began her job with Associated Press only a few weeks ago has had her position terminated after social media posts from her past allegedly showed “clear bias”.

Emily Wilder started at AP on May 3 as a Junior News Associate but by May 19, her position was terminated. AP’s social media policy claims that “employees must refrain from declaring their views on contentious public issues in any public forum and must not take part in organised action in support of causes or movements”.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Wilder claimed that her former employer had bowed to pressure after the Stanford College Republicans launched a “smear campaign” against her.

Wilder, who graduated from Standford last year and has since written for The Arizona Republic and USA Today, said her “history of activism for Palestinian human rights” while a student there was “well known.”

“I was transparent with my editors, and they reassured me I would not face punishment for my previous activism,” she wrote in a statement which she published on Twitter.

Last Thursday, Wilder spoke to SFGATE (The San Francisco Chronicle) where she said she has been ‘cancelled’.

“There’s no question I was just canceled,” Wilder said. “This is exactly the issue with the rhetoric around ‘cancel culture.’ To Republicans, cancel culture is usually seen as teens or young people online advocating that people be held accountable over accusations of racism or whatever it may be, but when it comes down to who actually has to deal with the lifelong ramifications of the selective enforcement of cancel culture — specifically over the issue of Israel and Palestine — it’s always the same side.” 

“The editor said I was not going to get in any trouble because everyone had opinions in college,” Wilder said. “Then came the rest of the week.”

“This is clearly a case of selective enforcement,” she added. “I don’t buy their convenient cover story at all because they never told me what specifically I did wrong, and in the termination letter, they said the harassment campaign prompted the review, and in that review they found supposed violations of their policy.”

“That’s an admission this was prompted by the campaign against me, and it’s really unfortunate the Associated Press is abdicating their responsibility to not only me, but to all journalists just because a group of college students wanted to engage in a witch hunt.”

The Stanford College Republicans shared a post Wilder made on Facebook when she was a university student where she described Israel supporter and late US billionaire Sheldon Adelson as a “naked mole rat-looking billionaire”.

The post was picked up by conservative news outlets. Commentators then came out to criticise AP for hiring Wilder.

AP told the Washington Post that Wilder was terminated for violating the social media policy while employed by the news organisation but was not specific about which of her former posts was in violation.

Last week, Wilder tweeted: “‘Objectivity’ feels fickle when the basic terms we use to report news implicitly stake a claim.”

“Using ‘Israel’ but never ‘Palestine,’ or ‘war’ but not ‘siege and occupation’ are political choices — yet media make those exact choices all the time without being flagged as biased.”

Wilder expressed on Twitter it was “heartbreaking” to be “defamed as antisemitic and thrown under the bus in the process”.

“I have to ask what kind of message this sends to young people who are hoping to channel righteous indignation or passion for justice into impressive, inspirational storytelling,” Wilder wrote, further adding that she “will not be intimidated into silence”.

A wave of reporters have come out in support for Wilder, saying AP’s decision was disappointing. Wilder told SFGate that the termination was devastating.

“I love journalism and part of what I think makes me such a capable, powerful journalist is how much I care about the people I write about, particularly the marginalised,” she said. “That’s why I joined the Associated Press, and they saw me as capable. This is of course a really hard situation, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen next.”

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