The firing of AP News reporter Emily Wilder shows the ugly truth behind many conservative politicians’ disdain for “cancel culture” and the repercussions and dangers of being a journalist in our current society.
Wilder was fired from her job mere weeks after her hiring as a news associate for the Associated Press in Arizona. The Stanford College Republicans group at Stanford University resurfaced several social media posts of her advocating for Palestine and her history of activism as a member of Pro-Palestine groups — Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine — prior to her 2020 graduation from the university. The organization’s attempt to discredit her would soon gain traction with conservative media and political figures, ultimately calling for her removal as a journalist.
However, this situation goes far beyond social media. The Stanford College Republicans group has a history of “smear campaigns” which have caused issues for Stanford students and Alumni. Their actions have caused professionals’ removal from positions, but also harassment and threats of violence. This raises an important question: how can a journalist report on many trending issues without the fear of harassment, job loss or social rejection coming as a result?
The dangers of journalism are more than merely violence. Wilder’s personal views in support of Palestine and her ability to report as a journalist are two separate entities. Yet, an organization such as the SCR can seemingly bring up her personal views to “cancel” her and put her in a predicament where she not only lost her job but faced severe harassment.
Her views didn’t depict her as a racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic or homophobic individual, yet somehow it was enough to have her fired. How is that OK? When an individual becomes a journalist, do they lose the ability to have personal views or freedom of speech? There needs to be a bigger discussion within the world of journalism as to whether freedom of speech and journalists’ personal opinions are only OK when they align with a certain viewpoint.
Journalists’ personal views, as well as their reporting on certain topics, can create devastating reactions. Conservative media outlets such as Fox News, Newsmax and The Daily Wire pick up these stories and create narratives which many of their more conservative viewers use as justification for harmful actions against these journalists. All it takes is a tweet from Ben Shapiro, Ted Cruz or even former President Donald Trump to create a whirlwind of harassment towards a certain individual. This can be a dangerous situation; it may cause journalists to fear how their work or personal views are interpreted and perceived by the public, constantly living in fear of self-sabotage by provoking a smear campaign against them.
Smear campaigns and threats against journalists and the media are recurring issues that needs to be resolved. Emily Wilder is not the first to experience this, but something needs to be done to ensure that she is one of the last.