Journalists condemned the Associated Press overnight and into Friday after the news agency dismissed a recently hired staffer following observations she made on social media about coverage of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Emily Wilder, who began working at the AP as a news associate on May 3, was fired Wednesday—three days after tweeting that despite promoting “objectivity” in reporting, many in the corporate media make “political choices” in how they choose to cover Israel and Palestine.
The AP told Wilder she had violated the company’s social media policy and fired her, but according to an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Wilder was not told which of her social media posts had led to the decision.
Although the AP’s policy as written only applies to social media posts during a staff member’s employment—and a spokesperson for the outlet told reporters Wilder was dismissed for posts made “during her time at AP“—Wilder said she believed she was fired because of old social media posts she wrote when she was a college student at Stanford University, from which she graduated in 2020.
Wilder, who is Jewish, was an active member of Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine and posted about Palestinian rights while in school.
Following her post on Sunday, the Stanford College Republicans publicly branded Wilder as an “anti-Israel agitator” and denounced the AP for hiring her.
The Federalist, Washington Free Beacon, and Fox News quickly picked up the story, noting that Wilder had led rallies for Palestinian rights while in college and attempting to connect her employment to the Israel Defense Forces attack on the building which housed the AP‘s Gaza bureau, which Israel claimed also contained an office run by Hamas.
Wilder said the firing was a response to the negative publicity.
“This is clearly a case of selective enforcement,” of the social media policy, Wilder told the Chronicle. “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,” she said.
Journalists and media critics came to Wilder’s defense, with some noting that the news of her firing came as reports surfaced about CNN anchor Chris Cuomo advising his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, about how to respond to sexual harassment allegations earlier this year.
Cuomo, the host of “Cuomo Prime Time,” apologized on air during his show Thursday night. According to The Hill, CNN has no plans to the disciplinary action against the host.
“These social media policies are so nebulous, almost by design, so that they can be selectively enforced…in a way that polices and harms the most vulnerable journalists among us,” Wilder told the Washington Post.
If Not Now, the Jewish-led pro-Palestinian rights organization, was among those that expressed solidarity with Wilder.
“This is completely unjust and outrageous and unaccountable behavior from AP management,” tweeted Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce, the president of Media Guild of the West. “If you can’t explain to someone what policy they’ve violated, you have no business firing them.”