Associated Press staffers 'strongly disapprove' handling of Emily Wilder, demand clarity over her firing
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More than 100 staffers from the Associated Press signed an open letter slamming the recent firing of Emily Wilder, a news associate who was let go after pro-Palestinian social media posts she had written when she was in college went viral.
Wilder was ousted Friday over an alleged violation of the outlet’s social media policy, after being hired by the news wire in April. Now, her former colleagues are demanding answers.
“As employees of The Associated Press, at all levels and across the globe, we strongly believe in our organization’s stated commitment to fairness and advancing the power of facts. Journalists demand transparency from the subjects of our reporting and seek to hold the powerful accountable,” the AP staffers began the open letter. “That’s why we strongly disapprove of the way the AP has handled the firing of Emily Wilder and its dayslong silence internally. 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. We are also concerned about the ramifications of this decision for newsroom morale and AP’s credibility.”
The staffers say that Wilder was “unnecessarily harmed” by the AP’s handling of her firing and they want reassurance that the company would stand behind its journalists who are targeted by “smear campaigns and online harassment.”
“This episode has caused the public to question the credibility of our reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which does a great disservice to our courageous journalists in Gaza — who have already greatly suffered this month — and in Israel,” the AP employees explained. “The amount of recrimination the AP has been subjected to online and in the news media also damages our reputation with our sources and audience on all subjects. The lack of clarity on the violations of the social media policy has made AP journalists afraid to engage on social media — often critical to our jobs — in any capacity.”
Wilder, who graduated from Stanford University in 2020 and had worked for the Arizona Republic, was the target of backlash after Stanford College Republicans drew attention to her activism on Twitter, referring to her as an “anti-Israel agitator” for protesting Birthright, a Jewish student travel program to Israel. She called the program “nothing more than ethnic nationalist propaganda” and accused Israel of engaging in “the ethnic cleansing and displacement of Palestinians in Palestine.”
Wilder, who is Jewish and was a member of the pro-Palestinian groups Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, also referred to late Jewish donor Sheldon Adelson as a “naked mole rat-looking billionaire.”
The Associated Press confirmed to Fox News on Thursday that Wilder no longer worked for the news agency and confirmed Saturday that her termination was due to the AP’s social media policy.
Wilder issued a statement on Saturday addressing what had transpired.
“I was transparent with my editors, and they assured me I would not face punishment for my previous activism. I was told my editors were only hoping to support me as I received an onslaught of sexist, antisemitic, racist and violent comments and messages,” Wilder wrote. “Less than 48 hours later, the AP fired me… When I asked my managers which exact tweets were in violation of policy or how, they refused to tell me. In the end, rather than take whatever misstep I made as a teaching opportunity… it appears they took it as an opportunity to make me a scapegoat.”
She vowed she would “not be intimidated into silence” and that she “will be back soon.”
The decision from the Associated Press to cut ties with Wilder comes just days after the news organization faced intense scrutiny over the revelation that it, among other media companies, was located in the same building in Gaza as the terrorist group Hamas, which was destroyed in an Israeli strike on Saturday. The AP denied having any knowledge of Hamas’ presence in that building.
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