The AP's Empty Gesture

Firing the activist Emily Wilder won't fix the wire service's bigger problems

(cropped from Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Associated Press on Thursday announced it had parted ways with Emily Wilder, a cub reporter whose anti-Semitic tweets were the subject of a Washington Free Beacon report published two days earlier. 

Wilder's "cancellation" has become the latest cause célèbre of the navel-gazing Beltway media, who are using the incident to accuse the right in general, and the Free Beacon in particular, of supporting the "cancel culture" we typically decry.

"Imagine being the world's largest news organization and caving to the Washington Free Beacon," tweeted the former AP correspondent Jonathan Myerson Katz, who called the brouhaha an embarrassment for the AP. 

Wilder herself weighed in Thursday in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle: "There's no question I was just canceled," she said. "This is exactly the issue with the rhetoric around 'cancel culture.'" 

The Free Beacon report chronicled Wilder's history as a left-wing campus activist and her derision of the late Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson as a "naked mole rat." No fans of cancel culture, we oppose her dismissal, which appears to have been a result of the wire service's sensitivity to charges of anti-Israel bias and unprofessional conduct in its ranks after news reports revealed that its Gaza bureau shared an office building with the Hamas terror organization.

Anti-Israel bias, political activism, and intemperate social media posts clearly do not disqualify one for work at the AP, so Wilder's dismissal is puzzling if it is seen as anything other than an organization looking for a quick fix to a public relations headache. 

Look no further than Gaza bureau chief Fares Akram, who has lionized the late terror leader Yasser Arafat—posting a photo of him to Facebook with the caption, "The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night"—who said in 2009 that he finds it "difficult to distinguish between what the Israelis call terrorists and the Israeli pilots and tank crews who are invading Gaza," and who was, before he joined the AP, an activist working as a consultant for the left-wing Human Rights Watch, which has labeled Israel an apartheid state. 

Wilder is a kid whose radical college activism became a matter of public interest in light of the organization's tendentious Gaza coverage. Bad timing. Her firing also served as a cheap and convenient bone to toss to critics.

If the AP were serious in its concern that the broader public view it as an independent and sober source of news, it might take a closer look at a hiring process that greenlights political activists and a management that promotes them to positions of power and influence. 

In the meantime, we will continue to chronicle their shortcomings.

Published under: Associated Press