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An Associated Press reporter has been fired over pro-Palestinian tweets she posted while in college – and now she insists she’s a victim of “cancel culture.”
Emily Wilder, a former Arizona Republic intern, started as an AP news associate in Phoenix on May 3, but learned just 16 days later that her time at the 174-year-old news agency would abruptly end due to the “clear bias” it says she showed in her social media posts, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
“It’s really devastating,” Wilder told the newspaper of her termination, adding that she wasn’t informed exactly which posts led to her dismissal.
An AP spokesperson told the newspaper Wilder was fired for violating its media policy “during her time at AP” – an apparent reference to posts in which she veered from its apolitical stance for reporters as recently as Sunday.
“‘Objectivity’ feels fickle when the basic terms we use to report news implicitly stake a claim,” Wilder posted. “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.”
The Stanford College Republicans then picked up on Wilder’s account a day later, tweeting it had unearthed a post she sent while at the college that referred to late Las Vegas casino magnate and Israel backer Sheldon Adelson as a “naked mole rat-looking billionaire.”
Wilder, who is Jewish, told the Washington Post she was a member of the pro-Palestinian groups Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine while at Stanford University.
Her previous post led to the Stanford College Republicans to dub her an ‘anti-Israel agitator” and share a photo of Wilder leading a “Return the Birthright” protest in New York in December 2017 against the Jewish student travel program to Israel.
The conservative group also highlighted an op-ed that Wilder wrote for the Stanford Daily in 2019 in which she referred to conservative pundit Ben Shapiro as a “little turd.”
Conservative news outlets like The Federalist claimed Wilder’s posts raised “additional questions” about the Associated Press’ reporting on the Israel and Hamas conflict amid the agency denying knowing that it operated a bureau in the same building as the militant Palestinian group that controls Gaza.
Wilder said she thinks her former employer fired her in response to that criticism, adding she was told her posts were reviewed after the unwanted publicity.
“This was a result of the campaign against me,” Wilder told the Washington Post. “To me, AP folded to the ridiculous demands and cheap bullying of organizations and individuals.”
She acknowledged possibly violating AP’s social media guidelines that bar employees from sharing political opinions, but claimed the policies are “selectively enforced” by design.
“I was transparent from the very beginning, and I have been transparent,” Wilder said of being upfront about her activist past. “Yes, I had opinions in college, and yes, I still have opinions, because everybody has opinions. I have never denied any of that.”
Wilder did not return a message seeking comment early Friday. She told SFGATE she believes she was “canceled” after Republicans as such as Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton tweeted about her hiring by the Associated Press — saying it was “not a surprise from a media organization that shared office space with Hamas.”
But Wilder said she regrets nothing as she looks for her next venture.
“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 marginalized,” she told SFGATE. “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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