More than 100 journalists at the Associated Press have condemned the firing of their colleague Emily Wilder over her criticism of ‘Israel’.
The journalists have published an open letter decrying the AP’s decision to fire Wilder over social media posts she made that were critical of Israel and support Palestine.
On May 3, Emily Wilder started a new job as an Associated Press news associate based in Maricopa County, Arizona.
However, after conservatives resurfaced old social media posts that drew attention from Republicans as prominent as Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Wilder was fired by the AP.
“There’s no question I was just canceled,” Wilder told SFGATE by phone on Thursday afternoon.
“This is exactly the issue with the rhetoric around ‘cancel culture.’”
She continued, “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.”
On Thursday, the AP decided to fire her, saying she violated “their social media policy.”
“They told me that I violated their social media policy and would be terminated immediately, but they never said which tweet or post violated the policy,” she said. “I asked them, ‘Please tell me what violated the policy,’ and they said, ‘No.’”
An Associated Press spokesperson confirmed to SFGATE that Wilder “was dismissed for violations of AP’s social media policy during her time at AP,” but did not address any other issue Wilder raised, stating that the AP generally does not comment on personnel matters.
Wilder said that because her editor originally noted that “everyone had opinions in college,” she sees her firing as selective enforcement against those who have expressed criticisms of ‘Israel’.
Wilder’s colleagues now say they are concerned “about the ramifications of this decision for newsroom morale and AP’s credibility”, while slamming the agency for the way it managed the entire incident.
“We strongly disapprove of the way the AP has handled the firing of Emily Wilder and its days long silence internally,” the journalists said in Monday’s open letter.
“We demand more clarity from the company about why Wilder was fired. It remains unclear – to Wilder herself as well as staff at large – how she violated the social media policy while employed by the AP,” the letter reads.
Signed by more than 130 journalists by Monday afternoon in the US, the open letter continues to be circulated in GoogleDocs, with more signatures being added.
A statement from @AP staff:
We love the AP. We also want it to change.
We hope the institution that we serve with bravery and tenacity every day will join us in charting a more equitable future.https://t.co/sOAGMGdcfY
— Kat Stafford (@kat__stafford) May 24, 2021
The journalists expressed particular concern over the fact that Wilder was fired after a right-wing campaign began digging up activism posts she had made during her time at university.
The journalists say they fear the AP has just given bad faith actors a tool to discredit more of their colleagues.
“We need to know that the AP would stand behind and provide resources to journalists who are the subject of smear campaigns and online harassment,” the group said.
“As journalists who cover contentious subjects, we are often the target of people unhappy with scrutiny. What happens when they orchestrate a smear campaign targeting another one of us? Interest groups are celebrating their victory and turning their sights on more AP journalists.
“They have routinely made journalists’ identities subject to attack. Once we decide to play this game on the terms of those acting in bad faith, we can’t win,” the journalists continued.
“While firings are rarely transparent, AP chose to name Wilder publicly. The lack of communication since then about Wilder’s firing and the circumstances surrounding it gives us no confidence that any one of us couldn’t be next, sacrificed without explanation. It has left our colleagues – particularly emerging journalists – wondering how we treat our own, what culture we embrace and what values we truly espouse as a company.”