More than 100 Associated Press reporters signed an open letter Monday protesting the firing of Emily Wilder, who was let go after her tweets about past college activism surfaced.
“Journalists demand transparency from the subjects of our reporting and seek to hold the powerful accountable,” the letter stated.
"That’s why we strongly disapprove of the way the AP has handled the firing of Emily Wilder and its days long silence internally. We demand more clarity from the company about why Wilder was fired.”
“The Associated Press looks forward to continuing the conversation with staff about AP’s social media policy,” the AP spokesperson said via email when asked about the open letter.
The AP hired Wilder, formerly a reporter for the Arizona Republic, for the entry-level reporting role of news associate on May 3.
On May 17, the Stanford College Republicans posted a series of tweets detailing activism on behalf of Palestinian causes that Wilder had engaged in when she was a Stanford student two years ago. She was fired on May 19.
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." @vv1lder pic.twitter.com/ZxtF8XhuHn— Stanford College Republicans (@Stanford_GOP) May 18, 2021
Wilder’s dismissal occurred against the backdrop of recent violence between Israel and Palestine and just days before a cease-fire in the conflict was announced.
The AP initially declined to comment on Wilder’s firing, but later told The Hill she was let go for tweets she had made after she had taken the job, not for her activities in college.
“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 Associated Press spokesperson said via email.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Wilder said the AP never told her which of her tweets violated company policy and suggested the AP caved to pressure from conservatives like Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonIs the Navy totally at sea? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - House debt vote today; Biden struggles to unite Arkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats MORE (R-Ark.) and media commentator Ben Shapiro.
My statement on my termination from The Associated Press. pic.twitter.com/kf4NCkDJXx— emily wilder (@vv1lder) May 22, 2021
In the letter, the reporters demanded the AP provide more “clarity about the disciplinary process used for Wilder, including which social media posts warranted termination and why.”
They also want the AP to create a forum to talk about expected best social media practices for reporters, a plan to support reporters targeted by harassment campaigns and a new committee to update the AP’s social media policy.
“As journalists who cover contentious subjects, we are often the target of people unhappy with scrutiny,” the letter stated. “What happens when they orchestrate a smear campaign targeting another one of us? Interest groups are celebrating their victory and turning their sights on more AP journalists.”
Updated at 5:38 p.m.