Emily Wilder, a former Associated Press reporter, was fired from the multinational media corporation late Thursday as a result of a right-wing media pressure campaign that included websites like The Federalist and The Washington Free Beacon, as well as the Stanford College Republicans.
Wilder was fired, if you will, for pro-Palestinian activism during her years in college, not at the AP.
The effort to fire Wilder began on Monday, with the Stanford College Republicans turning to Twitter to denounce the reporter’s previous pro-Palestine protests, concluding that she would never be able to be objective when reporting national news.
While at Stanford from 2016-2020, Wilder was a leader in Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, an organization with ties to Hamas affiliates, and which is notorious for inflicting acts of intimidation and violence against pro-Israel students.
— Stanford College Republicans (@Stanford_GOP) May 18, 2021
“Recently, we discovered that the Associated Press has hired former Stanford anti-Israel agitator, Emily Wilder, who referred to the late Sheldon Adelson as a ‘naked mole rat’ as one of their ‘journalists,'” the college Republican organization tweeted.
The Stanford Republican chapter’s tweets went on to say that the reporter, who is Jewish, was a member of an on-campus club called “Students for Justice in Palestine” during her undergraduate years.
Wilder labeling right-wing activist Ben Shapiro a “little turd” and Sheldon Adelson a “naked mole-rat” offended the college Republicans, who seemed to have their own problematic Twitter habits.
The story was quickly picked up by the right-wing propaganda machine, including The Federalist, The Washington Free Beacon, and Fox News, which labeled the reporter as “anti-Israel.”
The Free Beacon, in particular, printed its attack article without a byline and did not respond to any request for comment on why.
“A note to say that news associate Emily Wilder is no longer with the AP,” AP News director Peter Prengaman said in an all-staff email to staffers on Thursday.
Associated Press staff received a memo this morning that @vv1lder is no longer with the company, after conservatives rallied to get her fired because she was part of Students for Justice in Palestine in college https://t.co/vgYdZOcRKo pic.twitter.com/zcmmXn4fk0
— suhauna hussain (@suhaunah) May 20, 2021
However, the Associated Press argues that her activity in college was not the cause. “While AP generally refrains from commenting on personnel matters, we can confirm Emily Wilder’s comments on Thursday that she was dismissed for violations of AP’s social media policy during her time at AP,” an AP representative told The Wrap.
“Amazing how quickly a talented young reporter’s career can be snuffed out by a Twitter mob that decided to feign outrage over some college tweets. And if @vv1lder somehow violated @AP’s social media rules, the solution is to offer guidance, not termination, to a new reporter,” The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler tweeted following her firing.
Amazing how quickly a talented young reporter's career can be snuffed out by a Twitter mob that decided to feign outrage over some college tweets. And if @vv1lder somehow violated @AP's social-media rules, the solution is to offer guidance, not termination, to a new reporter. pic.twitter.com/PuGAwN0Aot
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) May 20, 2021
Wilder told SFGATE that her termination was the result of a right-wing outrage mob that purportedly hates “cancel culture” doing exactly what they claim to oppose.
“There’s no question I was just canceled,” told SFGATE reporter Eric Ting following the news of her firing. “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.”
Wilder said in an interview with SFGATE that she received a “onslaught of absolutely vile messages” when right-wing media picked up the story.
While The Associated Press may have caved in to the right-wing mob’s demands, many journalists on Twitter expressed their support for the young reporter.
“Shame on @AP @peterprengaman. I stand with Emily. Her reporting at our newspaper was excellent. Reverse your decision NOW,” The Arizona Republic’s reporter Rebekah Sanders wrote.
Shame on @AP @peterprengaman. I stand with Emily. Her reporting at our newspaper was excellent. Reverse your decision NOW.
— Rebekah Sanders 🌵 (@RebekahLSanders) May 20, 2021
The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel responded: “‘Hire @vv1lder’ is something more and more people are saying.”
"Hire @vv1lder" is something more and more people are saying.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) May 20, 2021
“Every journalist should be outraged about @AP firing [Wilder] over college activism in favor of freedom for Palestinians. The industry is rife with clear double-standards on this,” Los Angeles Times investigative reporter Adam Elmahrek commented on the firing.
Every journalist should be outraged about @AP firing @vv1lder over college activism in favor of freedom for Palestinians. The industry is rife with clear double-standards on this.
No college kid should have to fear losing a future career because they stood by their values https://t.co/R5VUpKKxyR
— Adam Elmahrek (@adamelmahrek) May 21, 2021
The Daily Beast’s senior politics reporter Will Sommer replied, “It’s crazy that editors are still falling for these bad-faith campaigns from right-wing media.”
It's crazy that editors are still falling for these bad-faith campaigns from right wing media https://t.co/FQ6nvo0ABJ
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) May 20, 2021
The decision to expose Wilder comes after right-wing commentators applauded an Israeli raid on a facility in Gaza on Saturday that housed multiple foreign press organizations, including The Associated Press.
Wilder responded on Twitter with a public statement regarding her firing.
My statement on my termination from The Associated Press. pic.twitter.com/kf4NCkDJXx
— emily wilder (@vv1lder) May 22, 2021