More than a year before the suspension of a Post reporter whose tweet referred to allegations against him, the paper’s journalists complained about how the N.B.A. star was received.
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After more than 300 Post employees rallied to her defense, the paper relented and allowed Felicia...After more than 300 Post employees rallied to her defense, the paper relented and allowed Felicia Sonmez to go back to work.
The Washington Post says Felicia Sonmez's tweets about Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case were 'ill-timed,' but not in violation of the newsroom's social media policy
The Washington Post on Sunday suspended journalist Felicia Sonmez amid an uproar after she tweeted out...The Washington Post on Sunday suspended journalist Felicia Sonmez amid an uproar after she tweeted out a link to a 2016 Daily Beast article about Kobe Bryant's rape case within hours of his death. Tracy Grant, managing editor of The Post, said that Sonmez has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into whether her viral tweets violated the "newsroom's social media policy." Social media users were in two camps: Some said Sonmez deserves not only to be suspended, but fired. Others questioned The Post because they believed the move could set a dangerous precedent. A Washington Post media critic and the newspaper's guild sprang to Sonmez's defense. On Tuesday, Grant issued a statement saying that Sonmez did not violate the newsroom's social media policy, but deemed her tweets "ill-timed." Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. The Washington Post on Sunday suspended Felicia Sonmez over tweets posted following Kobe Bryant's fatal helicopter accident, amid an investigation into whether she violated the "newsroom's social media policy." Two days later, after facing criticism on several fronts, the publication's leadership team walked back that decision and simply deemed her posts "ill-timed." The 41-year-old NBA legend and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant were among nine people on a private Sikorsky S-76 that was flying amid foggy conditions in California when it crashed and burst into fire, killing everyone on board. While the sports, political and business worlds and Lakers fans grappled with Bryant's death, Sonmez tweeted a link to an April 2016 Daily Beast story titled: "Kobe Bryant's Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser's Story, and the Half-Confession," Mediaite reported. Sonmez received tremendous blowback, including death threats and abuse, she said on Twitter. The Post's national political reporter responded with a follow-up tweet that has since been deleted: "Well, THAT was eye-opening. To the 10,000 people (literally) who have commented and emailed me with abuse and death threats, please take a moment and read the story - which was written 3+ years ago, and not by me," she tweeted. "Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling." She continued: "That folks are responding with rage and threats toward me (someone who didn't even write the piece but found it well-reported) speaks volumes about the pressure people come under to stay silent in these cases." The backlash continued, prompting Sonmez to post yet another tweet, which said in part: "If your response to a news article is to resort to harassment and intimidation of journalists, you might want to consider that your behavior says more about you than the person you're targeting." Amid the furor, the Post's Executive Editor Martin Baron sent her an email that said, "Felicia, A real lack of judgment to tweet this. Please stop. You're hurting this institution by doing this," Sonmez told The New York Times. UPDATE: "Felicia, A real lack of judgment to tweet this. Please stop. You’re hurting this institution by doing this." - Marty Baron, executive editor @ Washington Post, to a suspended reporter. But her colleagues have been rallying to her defense. https://t.co/f3ZHs5N8qt — Rachel C. Abrams (@RachelAbramsNY) January 27, 2020 Tracy Grant, managing editor of the Post, instructed Sonmez to delete her tweets and informed her that she was being placed on administrative leave. "The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues," Grant said in a statement to Insider. Journalist Matthew Keys reported that a source at the Post told him Sonmez's managers cared less about her tweets and more about the screengrabs of her email inbox, which she shared on Twitter, displaying the full names of her critics. Such a move could have legal repercussions, he said. When asked whether Keys' reporting was correct, The Post's public relations team said they had nothing else to share. "Her managers don’t care about the Daily Beast tweet," a Washington Post employee told me. "But there’s a concern that the screen shot (of her email inbox) might create some legal issues and could violate Twitter’s terms (of service)." https://t.co/66EyVcPsex https://t.co/9JjJnC0uno — Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) January 27, 2020 Although Sonmez had deleted all her tweets, some Twitter users had screengrabbed the now-viral posts and continued to respond with disgust. I saved your disgusting tweet here for you. Thank me later #firefeliciasonmez pic.twitter.com/s7zwD51NqB — Đ₳VłĐ ĐɆł₦ ₣₵ 🔴⚪ (@David_Dein_FC) January 27, 2020 Dear @feliciasonmez Please do not think that you deleted this vile piece of tasteless inappropriateness so quickly that it was not screen capped.Bye Felicia! pic.twitter.com/a9Y3oQmBID — Caris Bagge-Fincas (@CarisBagged) January 27, 2020 @feliciasonmez you should be ashamed of yourself the man and his daughter passes away and minutes after they pass away you put up this your a sick individual who deserves to never work as a journalist again and this was distasteful @washingtonpost #FireFeliciaSonmez pic.twitter.com/GWzKxExnqL — Bolts Nation (@HowardDolak25) January 27, 2020 There’s a special place in hell for people like you @feliciasonmez and the people who justifies what you did...Kobe can’t read your tweet.His family can...A 13 year old girl died#FireFeliciaSonmez — ejet ramos (@ejetramos) January 27, 2020 There was even a Change.org petition demanding Sonmez be fired — a popular sentiment on social media, too — that picked up nearly 350 signatures. SHAME ON the @washingtonpost !!! @feliciasonmez should be fired YESTERDAY! The level of disrespect is disgusting. Terrible excuse for a journalist — BIA (@PericoPrincess) January 27, 2020 Clean ya room kid — Pat (@ThePatNasty) January 27, 2020 Others, some of whom are journalists, condemned The Post's decision, calling it "bizarre" and "cowardly," and questioned whether it was appropriate to suspend Sonmez. This is absurd and sends a clear and terrible message to survivors and also perpetrators. @feliciasonmez shared information that was accurate, verifiable and true, but made some people upset. It is self-evident that many men who do good things are also capable of doing harm. https://t.co/qCoLWiLvpd — Soraya Chemaly (@schemaly) January 27, 2020 Genuinely shocked by the Post’s bizarre and cowardly decision to suspend @feliciasonmez for literally tweeting a single news link. — James Palmer (@BeijingPalmer) January 27, 2020 Suspending a reporter for tweeting a relevant detail — a detail included in virtually ALL the obits I’ve read — is heavy handed and chilling. I can’t speak to the Washington Post’s social media policies and I don’t know @feliciasonmez, but it’s hard to understand the decision. https://t.co/kUAsocCXeg — Barry J Whyte (@whytebarry) January 27, 2020 I’m sorry but I fail to see how placing @feliciasonmez on administrative leave for posting a reported news article about the 2003 accusations against Kobe is in any way fair — Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) January 27, 2020 Someone even created a Twitter page, titled "Official Felicia Sonmez Defense Account." Felicia's suspension is a travesty and should be immediately rescinded. This is just as important, at the very least, than the death of one very sketchy basketball man. Our sympathies to Gianna. May she rest. #IstandwithFelicia @MatthewKeysLive @feliciasonmez @washingtonpost — Official Felicia Sonmez Defense Account (@SonmezFelicia) January 27, 2020 On Monday afternoon, Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple criticized the paper's decision in an op-ed published on its site. In it, Wemple noted Sonmez's conduct was perfectly in line with the Post's social media policy. He wrote: "If journalists at The Post are prone to suspension for tweeting stories off their beats, the entire newsroom should be on administrative leave. Two, the contention that sharing a link to a news article complicates the work of others requires supporting evidence." Sonmez, who didn't respond to Business Insider's request for a comment, told Wemple: "I would argue that not ignoring a matter of public record is the way to go and making survivors feel seen and heard helps Washington Post journalists rather than making our jobs harder. We are more able to do our jobs because we've demonstrated to those survivors that we're worthy of their trust. I'm a little confused. If The Post is arguing that letting those survivors feel seen makes other colleagues jobs harder, I'd appreciate an explanation." A few hours later, The Washington Post Newspaper Guild released a statement, expressing "alarm and dismay" and urging The Post's leadership team to ensure Sonmez's safety and offer a "clear explanation" about why she was put on leave. As of Monday night, it had the signatures of more than 300 members of the newsroom. "We understand the hours after Bryant's death Sunday were a fraught time to share reporting about past accusations of sexual assault," the statement read. "The loss of such a beloved figure, and of so many other lives, is a tragedy. But we believe it is our responsibility as a news organization to tell the public the whole truth as we know it — about figures and institutions both popular and unpopular, at moments timely and untimely." On Tuesday, The Post's leaders offered to pay for Sonmez's hotel stay and security detail, the Guild told Andrew Beaujon, a senior editor at the Washingtonian. It also encouraged newsroom staff to post signs that say "Protecting employees protects the institution" at their desks. The Washington Post has offered to pay for @feliciasonmez’s hotel and security, and the union encourages members to put these signs up at their desks: https://t.co/OHg9HWQ8Zk pic.twitter.com/AONA1v2fwk — Andrew Beaujon (@abeaujon) January 28, 2020 Before the end of the day, Grant had issued a statement that was shared with Business Insider and said: "We consider Felicia's tweets ill-timed she was not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy ... We consistently urge restraint, which is particularly important when there are tragic deaths. We regret having spoken publicly about a personnel matter." New statement regarding Post reporter Felicia Sonmez pic.twitter.com/HBt2s5VW68 — Kristine Coratti Kelly (@kriscoratti) January 28, 2020 The Guild also accused the Post's management team of demonstrating "utter disregard" for survivors of sexual violence, Sonmez being one of them. "Assault survivors inside and outside this newsroom deserve treatment that is fair and transparent; that does not blame victims or compromise the safety of survivors," the statement said. In 2018, Sonmez accused Jonathan Kaiman, the former Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, of sexual misconduct, according to The New York Times. In a letter to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China seen by the Times, where Kaiman was president at the time, she outlined "problematic behavior," when the pair met in September 2017. Sonmez said Kaiman groped her without consent, pushed her up against a wall and pressured her into having sex with him. "Even though parts of the evening were consensual, while on the way, Jon escalated things in a way that crossed a line," Sonmez wrote. She also admitted that she couldn't definitively say if she'd been forced to have sex with Kaiman because they'd been drinking all night and her recollections were cloudy. Kaiman, who was suspended by the Los Angeles Times and eventually resigned, said everything that occurred that night was "mutually consensual." Sonmez was the second woman to levy such accusations against him. Laura Tucker, a law student and former housemate of Kaiman's, also said he pressured her into sex after they went out drinking in 2018, The New York Times reported. Read more: Everything we know — and what we don't — about the fatal helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and 7 others Kobe Bryant's helicopter climbed at least 2,200 feet in the air before crashing in foggy conditions, according to reports News outlets criticizes for coverage of Kobe Bryant's death Kobe Bryant's complex and illustrious NBA career Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Behind the scenes with Shepard Smith — the Fox News star who just announced his resignation from the network
TMZ drew a rebuke from a Los Angeles official after going first with the story of...TMZ drew a rebuke from a Los Angeles official after going first with the story of the former N.B.A. star’s death. Some other reports turned out to be false.