Washington Post Places Reporter On Leave After Bryant Tweet

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Post has placed a political reporter on administrative leave after she tweeted a link to a story about rape allegations against NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who was killed Sunday. Dozens of journalists at the newspaper criticized the decision.

Reporter Felicia Sonmez’s tweet Sunday, amid widespread public mourning over Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash, drew considerable backlash on social media. The Post reported that Somnez received threats of death and rape and had to move to a hotel after her home address was published online.

The Post said Somnez deleted the original tweet at the request of a managing editor. She also received an email from executive editor Marty Baron saying: “A real lack of judgment to tweet this. Please stop. You’re hurting this institution by doing this.” Somnez shared the email with an Associated Press reporter.

The Post said Somnez had been placed on paid leave while newsroom managers look into the episode. A spokeswoman for the newspaper did not respond to questions about Baron’s role.

Members of the Washington Post Newspaper Guild protested Somnez’s suspension. They also noted that Somnez had “received an onslaught of violent messages” and “has gotten insufficient guidance from the Post on how to protect herself.”

“We understand the hours after Bryant’s death Sunday were a fraught time to share reporting about past accusations of sexual assault,” Guild members wrote. “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.

Somnez’s controversial tweet linked to a 2016 Daily Beast story titled “Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession.”

Bryant was accused in 2003 of raping a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort. He said the two had consensual sex, and prosecutors later dropped the sexual assault charge at the request of the accuser. The woman filed a civil suit against Bryant that was settled out of court.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. The victim of the rape, involving Bryant, also received numerous death threats, and hence she was forced to withdraw her complaint, even though there was numerous substantiating evidence, including strangulation marks on her neck, which Bryant admitted to. It is a shame that this reporter was placed on leave, for telling the truth. However, when politics and race is involved, the latter always triumphs over truth.

  2. he may or may not be guilty but not sure what the purpose of reporting news of his death to only an accusation of decades ago.?????????? anyhow,great basketball washes away this kind of crime.also timing was poor too.still need some (not much ) saichel

  3. he may or may not be guilty but not sure what the purpose of reporting news of his death to only an accusation of decades ago.?????????? anyhow,great basketball washes away this kind of crime. Felicia Sonmez was threatened with death and rape.so i ask you do people care what koby is accused of ??people dont see the crime if they are ready to do it too.(sick society) also timing was poor too.still need some (not much ) saichel

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