Washington Post journalist is suspended after tweeting a link to a 2016 story about Kobe Bryant’s rape case just hours after he died in helicopter crash

Washington Post journalist is suspended after tweeting a link to a 2016 story about Kobe Bryant's rape case just hours after he died in helicopter crash


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26 shares, 452 points

A Washington Post journalist has been suspended by the newspaper after she tweeted a link on Sunday to a years-old story about the Kobe Bryant rape case just hours after the basketball legend and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash.

Felicia Sonmez, who covers national politics for the Post, took to Twitter shortly after the world learned of Bryant’s death along with eight others aboard his private helicopter which crashed outside of Los Angeles.

She posted a link to an April 2016 story from the news site The Daily Beast which carried the headline: ‘Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession.’

The tweet generated hundreds of shares and thousands of likes as well as many comments.

Sonmez says she has received death threats after posting the tweets. 

In follow-up tweets, Sonmez wrote: ‘Well, THAT was eye-opening.

Felicia Sonmez, a national political reporter for The Washington Post, angered Kobe Bryant fans on social media on Sunday
Felicia Sonmez, a national political reporter for The Washington Post, angered Kobe Bryant fans on social media on Sunday 
Hours after it was learned that Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine people who were killed in a helicopter crash, Sonmez tweeted a link to a 2016 story about the 2003 rape accusations against the basketball legend
Hours after it was learned that Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine people who were killed in a helicopter crash, Sonmez tweeted a link to a 2016 story about the 2003 rape accusations against the basketball legend 
In follow-up tweets, Sonmez writes: ‘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’
In follow-up tweets, Sonmez writes: ‘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’ 
Bryant (seen above in Eagle County Justice Center in Eagle, Colorado, in January 2004) was arrested and charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment after a 19-year-old woman alleged he raped her in a local hotel room
Bryant (seen above in Eagle County Justice Center in Eagle, Colorado, in January 2004) was arrested and charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment after a 19-year-old woman alleged he raped her in a local hotel room 

‘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.’

Sonmez 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.’

In another follow-up tweet, Sonmez wrote: ‘As an addendum: Hard to see what’s accomplished by messages such as these.

‘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.’

Sonmez deleted the tweets due to the overwhelming backlash, but others on Twitter screengrabbed the posts and responded with disgust.

Sonmez was placed on administrative leave by The Washington Post, the newspaper's managing editor, Tracy Grant, told DailyMail.com
Sonmez was placed on administrative leave by The Washington Post, the newspaper’s managing editor, Tracy Grant, told DailyMail.com 

The reaction on Twitter from Bryant fans was so severe that the hashtag #FireFeliciaSonmez was trending.

Tracy Grant, managing editor of The Washington Post, told DailyMail.com on Sunday: ‘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.’ 

On Twitter, reaction to Sonmez’s tweet was scathing. 

‘What a disgusting post from Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez immediately after Kobe Bryant and his daughter’s death,’ tweeted one Twitter user.

Reaction on Twitter was scathing, with some viewers referring to Sonmez as 'garbage'
Reaction on Twitter was scathing, with some viewers referring to Sonmez as ‘garbage’ 
Twitter users slammed Sonmez for the timing of her tweet, which was posted hours after it was learned that Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles
Twitter users slammed Sonmez for the timing of her tweet, which was posted hours after it was learned that Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles 
One Twitter user called Sonmez a 'heartless reporter' for posting the tweet when she did
One Twitter user called Sonmez a ‘heartless reporter’ for posting the tweet when she did 
Another Twitter user demanded that Sonmez post messages like the one posted by former President Barack Obama
Another Twitter user demanded that Sonmez post messages like the one posted by former President Barack Obama 
Another Twitter user referred to Sonmez as a 'garbage human' on Sunday
Another Twitter user referred to Sonmez as a ‘garbage human’ on Sunday 
'Are y'all trying to get him to pay for his "crimes" in the afterlife?' one Twitter user asked
‘Are y’all trying to get him to pay for his “crimes” in the afterlife?’ one Twitter user asked 

Another Twitter user wrote: ‘It takes immense skill and stupidity to find a way to play the victim, in a moment where 9 people lost their lives in a helicopter crash.

‘Again, delete your account.’

One Twitter user demanded: ‘Hey @washingtonpost , do the right thing and show the world that irresponsible journalism is unacceptable.’

Another Twitter user wrote: ‘There’s a time & place for everything. Bringing up dirt on someone that just died only a few hours ago is neither the time or place. Felicia is a fucking disgrace to her profession.’

Wrote another Twitter user: ‘Whether it was written by you doesn’t matter. It was YOUR boneheaded decision to repost it within hours of his death.

‘You’re slime.’

Another Twitter user wrote: ‘Here’s an idea for @washingtonpost…Send Felicia to Wunan [sic], China as a permanent resident reporter to cover that region.

‘Like next flight out immediately.’

That Twitter post referred to Wuhan, the city in China where a new strand of coronavirus has broken out and spread to other parts of the country and the world, infecting thousands.

At least one Twitter user, however, sympathized with Sonmez, writing: 'The minutes someone passes people try to completely erase their wrongdoings'
At least one Twitter user, however, sympathized with Sonmez, writing: ‘The minutes someone passes people try to completely erase their wrongdoings’ 
'The age and status of the others who unfortunately passed do not negate his crimes and homphobia,' wrote one Twitter user
‘The age and status of the others who unfortunately passed do not negate his crimes and homphobia,’ wrote one Twitter user 

Bryant was accused of rape in 2003 by a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado hotel prior to a scheduled knee surgery.

Although he denied the charges, which were dropped when the accuser refused to testify, Bryant did admit to cheating on his wife Vanessa and reportedly settled a civil suit with the alleged victim.

Terms of the agreement were never released.


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