Washington Post Suspends Reporter for Tweeting About Kobe Bryant’s Rape Allegation

"The tweets displayed poor judgment," the newspaper says

Kobe Bryant talks with reporters at the Washington Post after attending the Aspen Institute's Project Play Summit at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, October 17, 2018.  (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant talks with reporters at the Washington Post after attending the Aspen Institute's Project Play Summit at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, October 17, 2018. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
By Bonnie Stiernberg / January 27, 2020 10:29 am

The Washington Post has placed political reporter Felicia Sonmez on leave after she shared an article about the 2003 rape allegation against Kobe Bryant in the wake of his death in a helicopter crash Sunday.

Sonmez tweeted out a link to a 2016 Daily Beast article, which she did not write, called “Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession.” After she was met with backlash from grieving fans, she tweeted out her reasoning for sharing the piece.

“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 wrote. “Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling. 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 Washington Post, however, reacted by suspending Sonmez and investigating her 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,” managing editor Tracy Grant said in a statement. “The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.”

Sonmez has since deleted the tweets.

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