News and Commentary

Student Journalist Settles With ASU After Being Fired Over Tweet About Jacob Blake
Protesters hold a banner during a community celebration and call for justice for Jacob Blake as grassroots group MoveOn flies an airplane banner and drives a mobile billboard calling on voters to "Reject Trump's Violence," in response to Donald Trump's visit on September 01, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for MoveOn

A journalism student has settled with Arizona State University after she was fired from a radio job over what happened after she tweeted about the sexual assault allegations against Jacob Blake, who was shot while police were trying to execute a warrant for his arrest.

The New York Post reported that Rae’Lee Klein, who attended the ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, was fired as station manager of the school’s radio station, Blaze Radio, after she tweeted an article about the sexual assault allegations against Blake. Her tweet allegedly offended other students in the organization, which prompted her firing.

“Always more to the story, folks,” Klein said in a tweet last August, which included a link to a New York Post article. “Please read this article to get the background of Jacob Blake’s warrant. You’ll be quite disgusted.”

ASU said in a statement regarding its settlement with Klein that her tweet prompted meetings between offended students and school staff, which led “the student board to conclude that relationships had deteriorated to the point that they lost confidence in Klein as a leader and the board decided to deny her further programming authority for the station.”

Still, in a statement to Fox News in October that interim dean Kristin Gilger, ASU’s journalism school, and its mass communication program made it clear to Klein “that she would not be, and has not been, removed as station manager of Blaze Radio because of the views she expressed.”

So, it wasn’t for the views she expressed, it was for how students reacted to those views, which is somehow different. Instead of explaining to the allegedly offended students why Klein’s tweet was an act of journalism — providing context to a bigger story — the school took action against Klein.

“Ms. Klein remains a student employee of Arizona State University and ASU has presented her with options to continue on as a station manager in a way that takes into account the needs and points of view of other students involved in the Blaze Radio organization,” ASU said in its October statement.

Klein sued the university, telling the Post in September that she received “a huge amount of backlash” for the tweet.

“They said in me sharing that it was very insensitive, offended them and made them feel unsafe and uncomfortable with me being a leader of such a big organization on campus,” Klein told the outlet. “I was in no way condoning what happened to him, I was just sharing information I thought was relevant.”

Klein deleted the tweet and apologized, saying: “It was not my intent to make an excuse for what happened to Jacob Blake. The incident is tragic in every sense of the word. The point of my tweet was to provide an additional perspective. I apologize to anyone who I may have offended.”

“I’m grateful for the conversations I’ve been able to have with people who have offered differing opinions. I, as a student journalist, did not take into account the harm this may have further caused and I am committed to minimizing harm as I try to seek truth. Again, I apologize,” she added.

She said that even after she apologized, people called for her to resign.

On February 25, ASU announced that it had reached a settlement with Klein, who initially asked for $500,000. In the end, she accepted $7,040 as reimbursement for tuition and other costs, the university said.

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