The Associated Press reporter who was fired after right-wing media and activists worked to destroy her reputation over views she expressed about Israel and Palestine while in college said Saturday that the wire service made her “a scapegoat.”
The reporter, Emily Wilder, who is Jewish, was terminated on Wednesday after three weeks on the job, sparking an immediate outcry from others in the news media.
She had been targeted by the Stanford College Republicans ― a group of college-age conservatives from her alma mater ― for criticizing Zionists including the late billionaire Trump supporter Sheldon Adelson over social media and participating in a group called Students for Justice in Palestine.
Wilder said in a statement that she was fired for violating the AP’s social media policy, which the wire service also confirmed in a statement this week. But according to Wilder, AP management never told her which posts supposedly constituted a violation when she asked.
Conservative media and Republicans with large followings, including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), amplified the Stanford College Republicans’ pressure campaign against the wire service.
“Not a surprise from a media organization that shared office space with Hamas,” Cotton wrote on Twitter alongside a story about Wilder on the Washington Free Beacon, a right-wing news site.
The AP’s Gaza City offices ― which it shared with Al Jazeera and other news outlets ― were destroyed last weekend by a targeted Israeli air strike. While Israel says it had information that proved Hamas was operating within the building, the AP said it had used the space for 15 years and never seen evidence of terrorist activity there. The building was also largely residential.
“In the end … it appears they took it as an opportunity to make me a scapegoat,” Wilder wrote.
“This is heartbreaking as a young journalist so hungry to learn from the fearless investigative reporting of AP journalists ― and do that reporting myself. It’s terrifying as a young woman who was hung out to dry when I needed support form my institution most.”
She continued: “I am one victim to the asymmetrical enforcement of rules around objectivity and social media that has censored so many journalists ― particularly Palestinian journalists and other journalists of color ― before me. The compassion that drove my activism is part of what led me to be a reporter committed to just, critical, fact-based coverage of under-told stories.”
The young reporter’s firing was brought under more intense scrutiny because it happened the same week The Washington Post reported that Chris Cuomo ― brother to New York Gov. Chris Cuomo (D) and a fixture at CNN ― brazenly violated journalistic ethics. The journalist Cuomo participated in strategy sessions with his brother’s staff on how to respond to sexual assault allegations that were stacking up against him, according to the Post. He is still employed with CNN.
Initially, Wilder said, she was assured by her managers that they would support her, having been upfront with them about her college activism.
“What does it mean for this industry that even sharing the painful experiences of Palestinians or interrogating the language we use to describe them can be seen as irredeemably ‘biased?’” she asked.
This month’s violence between Israel and Palestine ― and its lopsided death toll ― appear to have shifted the needle on U.S. support for Israel among Democrats. Some in the party, particularly its young and progressive wings, have drawn a line between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and the fight for racial justice in America.
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