We Spleen: What the AP Called Amal Clooney

Last week, three journalists—Egyptian Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste—were sentenced in Egypt to three years behind bars for their work with Al-Jazeera.

The sentence was shocking, another example of the erosion of press freedom in Egypt, but the journalists are fighting back. Representing Fahmy is Amal Clooney, an esteemed human rights lawyer, whose roster of achievements is long: She has represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, worked as a senior advisor to former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and coedited a book titled The Law and Practice of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. 

In announcing that Clooney had taken on Fahmy’s case, however, the Associated Press chose to focus not on the lawyer’s qualifications, but on her marriage to actor George Clooney:

Yes, you read that right. The AP called Clooney “actor’s wife” instead of oh, I don’t know, human rights attorney? Internationally sought-after barrister? High-profile lawyer? The options are many.

Twitter exploded after the AP slip up, with users rightfully calling out the news agency for its everyday sexism.

Clooney hasn’t responded directly to the tweet—though she has said she wishes journalists would focus on the issue of press freedom in this case, and not on her marital status—but she did reveal over the weekend that Canada has formally applied for a pardon. Of the guilty verdict, she said, “It sends a message that journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news. And it sends a dangerous message that there are judges in Egypt who will allow their courts to become instruments of political repression and propaganda.”

Try again, AP.

Photo via Shutterstock


Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.