WaPo Suspends Reporter for Distasteful Tweets About Kobe

The Washington Post suspended one of their reporters to tweeted some distasteful things in the wake of NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s death.

Post reporter Felecia Sonmez tweeted a link to a story from 2016 about a rape case against Bryant. One that he was deemed innocent in and not convicted. She did so shortly after the news of his death in a fiery helicopter crash on Sunday.

Somez claims she has received death threats for her tweets, and was also placed on administrative leave while the Post reviews her tweets to see if they violated the company’s social media policy.

Post managing editor Tracy Grant said, “National political reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed on administrative leave while The Post reviews whether tweets about the death of Kobe Bryant violated The Post newsroom's social media policy. The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.”

The Hill reports:

It’s not clear whether the Post was upset with Sonmez’s tweet about the Bryant rape case, which included a link to a 2016 Daily Beast story, or whether later tweets by the reporter may have broken the Post’s policies.

Sonmez in an initial tweet posted a link to a 2016 Daily Beast story headlined: “Kobe Bryant's Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser's Story, and the Half-Confession.”

The tweet quickly sparked tens of thousands of angry replies accusing Sonmez of insensitivity. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also killed in the helicopter crash.

In her later tweets, Sonmez noted the death threats she was receiving over the initial post, and in one tweet she included the full names of some people who sent her emails, according to a report from Matthew Keys at The Desk.

Bryant was charged with felony sexual assault in 2003 after a 19-year-old woman working in a Colorado hotel accused him of rape. Prosecutors ended up dropping the case after Bryant’s accuser declined to testify. She later brought a civil lawsuit against Bryant that was settled out of court.

Bryant said the two had sex but that it was consensual. He later acknowledged the woman did not view the incident as consensual, and he offered her an apology.

After claiming she received death threats, Sonmez tweeted “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. Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality, even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling,” she wrote.

“That folks are responding with rage & 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,” she added.

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