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19 Sep, 2020 08:16

Journalism student at ASU’s Cronkite school CANCELED for tweeting about Jacob Blake warrant

Journalism student at ASU’s Cronkite school CANCELED for tweeting about Jacob Blake warrant

A journalism student at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School has been fired from her job as manager of the school-run radio station because of her tweet about black man Jacob Blake, shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Rae’Lee Klein, who had been pressured to resign by administrators and the student board of directors at Arizona State’s Blaze Radio station, said Thursday that she had officially been removed from her position as manager. She said school officials, including interim dean Kristin Gilger, declined to tell her what rule or rules she had violated.

The controversy began when Klein retweeted an article from the New York Post about Blake’s arrest warrant on August 28. The warrant included details about allegations of felony sexual assault against Blake, and Klein added a comment to her retweet saying, “Always more to the story, folks. Please read the article to get the background of Jacob Blake’s warrant. You’ll be quite disgusted.”

Klein later said in an interview that she was disgusted by the accusations against Blake, which included an alleged violent sexual assault of a woman in front of the woman’s child. But at the time of her tweet, Blake had become the inspiration for violent Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha after police shot him seven times in the back during a struggle to arrest him.

A few days after the tweet, the six-member board of directors at Blaze Radio voted unanimously to call for Klein’s resignation and said it wouldn’t recognize her as manager if she refused. Former student directors of the station issued a statement in support of the decision, saying “students of color will not feel welcome” at the station as long as Klein remains manager.

The Cronkite School issued a statement Friday, denying that Klein had been fired from her position. “Any actions that are unfolding are not punishment for a tweet,” Gilger said in the statement. “I have been clear with Rae’Lee that she would not be removed as station manager… because of the views she expressed.”

But Klein’s Tweet Thursday included a screenshot of an email from Gilger, reminding her that “staying on as station manager is not an option.” The message was a response to Klein’s refusal of an earlier ultimatum to accept one of three options – being reassigned to another student job, remaining on the board in another capacity, or starting her own radio station. Gilger’s statement Friday said she had offered the student “numerous ways to resolve the situation that take into account the needs of all students involved in the Blaze Radio organization.”

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Ironically, Gilger is interim dean because ‘cancel culture’ at Arizona State brought down her predecessor. Sonya Duhe, who was set to become the school’s dean, triggered student and faculty outrage when she posted a tweet in June saying she was praying for the family of George Floyd and “the good police officers who keep us safe.” Former students stepped forward to accuse Duhe of “microaggressions,” and the Cronkite School rescinded its offer to her.

After publishing a Q&A article in June in which a student interviewed a former police officer, students complained again. The school removed the article from the internet and replaced it with an apology note.

The school is named for the late Walter Cronkite, who was called “the most trusted man in America” during his tenure as anchorman of CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981. Twitter users, including author Chris DeRose, said it may be time to remove Cronkite’s name from the school, in light of the decision to fire a journalist for reporting truthful information. “Walter is rolling over in his grave at what journalism has become,” one commenter said. Conservative author Mike Cernovich questioned whether federal funding to Arizona State could be halted.

Other Twitter users encouraged Klein to sue the university, and some said they were Arizona State alumni and would stop their donations to the school. Many commenters encouraged Klein to keep fighting for truth, saying her career will be boosted by her ouster from Blaze Radio, but one said, “Unfortunately, it’s journalism today. There’s no longer journalism. There’s only peddlers of activism.”

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