Washington Post Suspends Political Reporter Felicia Sonmez After Tweets About Kobe Bryant Rape Case

Ryan Glasspiegel
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Washington Post logo / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images
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One thing the media must grapple with when anybody dies is the extent to which journalists mention or omit blemishes in their lives. Kobe Bryant's tragic, sudden passing was a case study in this, as he had immeasurable impact as a basketball performer and by all indications was an immensely loving father to his four daughters. He was also the subject of a high-profile investigation into an allegation of rape in Colorado, in a case that was ultimately dropped by the criminal justice system but after which he reached a settlement with the accuser.

Felicia Somnez, a national political reporter for the Washington Post, has been suspended by the newspaper while they look into the content of her tweets about Bryant's rape case. They have since been deleted, but screengrabs were preserved by the journalist Matthew Keys:

Sonmez also shared a screenshot of her inbox, which included full names of people who were emailing her to criticize her about the Kobe tweets.

“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,” Washington Post managing editor Tracy Grant told TheWrap in a statement. “The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues."

This feels like a story that will take on big dividing lines, as many journalists will argue that Sonmez's tweets were newsworthy and that people who email her relinquish their anonymity. Meanwhile, people who revere Bryant would probably argue that it was too soon amidst the tragedy to focus on negatives (as was evidenced by what Sonmez said were 10,000 replies).

It is presumable that this story will not go away anytime soon.

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