The Press Is Conflicted Over Cancel Culture, as Two Cases Create Opposite Reactions

Sceenshot via CNN

For days now there have been members of the media up in a dander over the Associated Press letting go of a newly-hired reporter, Emily Wilder, over some of her past, or recent comments she made about Israel. Wilder had only been with the news service for a couple of weeks, and there have been loud reactions from the journalism circles over the unjust termination, with many saying this was an example of cancel-culture of the lowest order.

Adding to the dismay is that the Associated Press is playing coy over the specifics, allowing there to be accusations made that a conservative push led to her dismissal. This is a rather amusing charge, as it carries with it the implication that conservatives hold sway over major news outlets. The rumor is that this episode began with complaints made by the College Republicans at Wilder’s alma mater, Stanford University, over her past social media support for Palestine. Other conservative outlets joined in recently with criticism, and Wilder has said this led to her termination.

The reason cited for Wilder’s termination by AP is, “She was dismissed for violations of AP’s social media policy during her time at AP,” a turn of phrase that would seem to indicate more contemporary content was at play. The challenge is that the AP does not cite a specific violation, and the idea that her work out of the office in Phoenix, Arizona was impacted also is a curiosity. One recent entry she posted could be an indicator.

What is most revealing is that for about two days many in the press railed against the move, and declared that past comments should not be held as reasons for termination. Then CNN went forward with the exact same move regarding Rick Santorum, who was working as a pundit for the network. Santorum was let go over the weekend when comments he made at a conference last month were said to have been dismissive towards Native Americans. The outrage heard was not enough to drown out the crickets. Somehow a member of a news organization being fired over perceived offenses was completely acceptable all of a sudden.

What is most telling is that the press moved right past Santorum (after a slight pause for celebration) and continued with their hand-wringing over the fortnight career of a newcomer. The Sunday programs had their share of coverage, and one of the more celebrated responses came from Olivia Nuzzi of New York Magazine. She tweeted a lengthy thread addressing the issue, but then in the course of delving into the matter let slip what had to be an unintentional line that seems to underscore specifically what is at play here.

She was deep into her double-digit thread when she delivered this thought.

That use of “other” is quite telling. She has declared the news outlets to be liberal institutions, not a surprise detail in itself, but her admission of it is of note. She is lambasting the fact that conservative outlets had been able to instigate this backlash against Wilder, leading to her ouster. What she fails to note is that what was actually in play was the implementation of the very cancel techniques earlier promoted by the media and the left. Nuzzi is implying that it is wrong to buckle to the efforts of the right, but she is operating with the blindspot that “cancel” efforts were used initially on those on the right.

Note how the press has gilded right past the Santorum story with the barest of complaints and kept right along with their stance that the Wilder firing — over the exact same thing — was completely unjustified. They fail to recognize the same standards are in play, and this illustrates specifically why the press has been getting into knots over cancel culture, a practice that initially the press supported in its burgeoning days. 

Nuzzi acknowledging the liberalism in the press is a huge tip-off. Two identical stories, two different responses, because of the same liberal mindset. In one case a conservative was justifiably fired for insensitive comments; in the other conservatives called for the unjust firing over insensitive comments. It is for this exact reason that cancel culture continues to vex them. Initially, conservative voices had said that liberals will not like it when these tactics are used against them by holding the press to the same standards they impose on others.

And what do we discover? They do not like it at all when conservatives call for the same standards to be applied to them.