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May 25, 2021

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Journalists at The Associated Press have put out a statement to show their disapproval of the firing of Emily Wilder. At the very least, they want more information.

Wilder is the 22-year-old journalist from Phoenix who was fired only weeks into her time at the AP for, according to the AP, violating the company’s social media policy. However, the AP has not said exactly what Wilder wrote that broke its rules.

Wilder says she is being punished for past pro-Palestinian activism while in college and for the pushback against her hiring by conservative media and even Sen. Tom Cotton, as well as the “asymmetrical enforcement of rules around objectivity and social media that has censored so many journalists.”

In the open letter to the AP, journalists at the AP wrote, “That’s why we strongly disapprove of the way the AP has handled the firing of Emily Wilder and its dayslong silence internally. We demand more clarity from the company about why Wilder was fired. It remains unclear — to Wilder herself as well as staff at large — how she violated the social media policy while employed by the AP. We are also concerned about the ramifications of this decision for newsroom morale and AP’s credibility.”

They also wrote that Wilder was “unnecessarily harmed” by the AP’s decision and that the AP should be standing behind its journalists against “smear campaigns and online harassment.”

The letter went on to say, “This episode has caused the public to question the credibility of our reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which does a great disservice to our courageous journalists in Gaza — who have already greatly suffered this month — and in Israel.”

The letter, which was signed by more than 100 AP staffers, requests several things, including:

  • Clarity about the disciplinary process used for Wilder.
  • A forum to discuss what the AP deems best social media practices for its journalists.
  • A clear commitment to and playbook for supporting staff targeted by harassment campaigns.
  • The formation of a diverse committee to update the AP’s social media policy to support evidence-based, nuanced social posting.

CNN’s Brian Stelter tweeted the AP’s response to the open letter: “The @AP looks forward to continuing the conversation with staff about AP’s social media policy.”

The Intercept’s Ken Klippenstein reported that an internal memo signed by 10 senior AP executives assured staffers “we hear you” and that staffers will “have a voice” in future conversations about social media. Sally Buzbee, who is leaving as the AP’s executive editor to take over as The Washington Post’s executive editor, was not among the executives who signed the memo.

NPR’s David Folkenflik reports that Buzbee was not involved in the decision to fire Wilder. She told Folkenflik, “By the time the situation came up, I had accepted The Post job and thus handed over day-to-day operations at AP, so I was not involved in the decision at all.”

Cuomo defends Cuomo

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor of Andrew Cuomo via AP, left, and Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Last week, CNN’s Chris Cuomo came under criticism, including from me, for advising his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Several women have accused the governor of sexual misconduct and Chris Cuomo confirmed a Washington Post report that he was a part of strategy sessions on how Andrew should deal with the accusations. It seems fairly evident that journalists helping politicians is crossing a line.

On Monday, Gov. Cuomo defended Chris Cuomo and seemed to think it all was no big deal.

“I had conversations with my brother. I always have conversations with my brother because he’s my brother and he’s my best friend,” Andrew Cuomo said. “Obviously, he was aware of what was going on and I talked to him about it, and he told me his thoughts. He always tells me his thoughts. Sometimes I follow them, sometimes I don’t. He was not covering the story. He had recused himself from the story.”

Then, Gov. Cuomo added this surprising admission: “But I talk to journalists about situations all the time and they tell me their thoughts and their advice.”

So, of course, the next question is: Who else is Cuomo talking to? The New York Post was one outlet that asked that very question, but has not heard back from the governor or his office.

Sanctions against Belarus

European Union leaders have agreed on sanctions against Belarus after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ordered a plane flying over the country to land so Raman Pratasevich, a journalist who has opposed Lukashenko and the government, could be arrested. An Irish-based Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was ordered to land in Belarus on Sunday, and that’s where Pratasevich was taken into custody.

Leaders from across the globe have compared this stunning action equal to that of a hijacking and EU leaders are calling for Pratasevich’s immediate release. White House press secretary Jen Psaki called it a “shocking act,” adding, “It constitutes a brazen affront to international peace and security by the regime. We demand an immediate international, transparent and credible investigation of this incident.”

The Associated Press’ Raf Casert, Samuel Petrequin and Vladimir Isachenkov have more details. And, from the Financial Times’ James Shotter and Max Seddon: “How “Roman Protasevich became one of Lukashenko’s prized targets.”

Bongino’s debut

Dan Bongino in 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Dan Bongino’s radio show debuted on Monday on Cumulus Media’s Westwood One. Bongino is seen as the replacement for those who listened to the late Rush Limbaugh. It airs in the same time slot (noon to 3 p.m. Eastern). Bongino’s radio show is also being streamed on Fox Nation.

Bongino told “Fox & Friends,” “There’s no replacing Rush, OK? None. It’s never ever gonna happen. But, me being in that time slot, I really hope to do some honor to his legacy.”

Monday’s debut show featured an interview with former President Donald Trump, who told Bongino that he is seriously considering running for president in 2024 and that he would make an announcement “when the time is right.”

Number of the day

53. That’s the percentage of Republicans who believe Donald Trump is the actual president, according to an Ipsos/Reuters poll. The poll also showed that 56% of Republicans believe the election was rigged or the result of illegal voting.

There’s more. Only 30% of Republicans feel confident that absentee or mail-in ballots were accurately counted. That leads to 87% of Republicans believing it’s important that the government place new limits on voting to guard against fraud.

Iron Mike

Big night on ABC. First, at 8 p.m. Eastern, ABC debuts the first part of a four-hour documentary about boxing great Mike Tyson. “Mike Tyson: The Knockout” looks back at Tyson’s climb to one of the best heavyweight champs ever, his fall (including going to prison for rape) and where he is now. The first two hours air tonight. The final two hours air next Tuesday, June 1. This is a production of ABC News, not ABC Sports (i.e. ESPN).

Following the Tyson documentary tonight, ABC News will air a special on the year anniversary of George Floyd being killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. “Soul of a Nation — After Floyd: The Year That Shook The World.” It airs at 10 p.m. Eastern.

Today’s USA Today

Here’s the cover of today’s USA Today, looking back at the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death.

(Courtesy: USA Today)

Axios Local expanding

Axios is expanding its local coverage to more cities. By the end of this year, Axios Local will have added eight news cities, producing newsletters that will cover the latest news in those areas. The new cities will be: Atlanta

Austin, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Washington, Nashville and Philadelphia.

Axios Local is already in six locations: Charlotte, Denver, Des Moines, the Twin Cities, Tampa Bay and northwest Arkansas. Here’s where you can sign up for Axios’ local editions.

Media tidbits

  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jim Higgins with an obit about a Milwaukee newsroom leader: “Laurie Van Dyke blazed a trail for women in Milwaukee journalism.”
  • Writing for The New Yorker, Sarah Larson with “Why Dateline remains the true-crime king.”
  • The latest must-read, behind-the-scenes column from New York Times media writer Ben Smith: “It’s the Media’s ‘Mean-Too’ Moment. Stop Yelling and Go to Human Resources.”
  • ESPN’s Kenny Mayne was on “SportsCenter” for the final time Monday night. Mayne is leaving the network after turning down a contract that would have cut his pay by 61%.
  • Fox News contributor Rachel Campos-Duffy will replace Jedediah Bila as the new co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend.”
  • Time Magazine has made some leadership changes to its editorial department to further subscriptions and digital transformation. Here are the details.
  • ESPN is hooking up soccer fans for the upcoming UEFA European Football Championship 2020. The ESPN networks and ABC will carry all 51 matches. The tournament starts June 11 with the final scheduled for July 11 at Wembley Stadium in London. For more info, including the schedule, check out ESPN’s release.
  • A new “Real Sports” debuts tonight on HBO (10 p.m. Eastern). Host Bryant Gumbel will lead a virtual panel about the banning of athlete protests at the Olympics. The panel includes Tommie Smith, who raised a gloved fist on the medal podium at the 1968 Olympics; gold medal sprinter and long jumper Tianna Bartoletta; fencer Race Imboden; and hammer thrower Gwendolyn Berry.
  • Inkoo Kang, formerly of The Hollywood Reporter, has been named the new TV critic at The Washington Post.

Hot type

Most days, I link to several stories in this section. Today, I am linking to just one because if there’s only one piece of journalism that you check out today, this is it. The New York Times did a sensational interactive piece looking at What the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Destroyed. This work — put together by Yuliya Parshina-Kottas, Anjali Singhvi, Audra D.S. Burch, Troy Griggs, Mika Gröndahl, Lingdong Huang, Tim Wallace, Jeremy White and Josh Williams — is nothing short of superb. Read it. Read it now.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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