Washington Posts political reporter Felicia Sonmez has been put on administrative leave after she tweeted an article about rape allegations made against NBA star Kobe Bryant hours after his death. More inside…
As the world was mourning the death of NBA icon Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, Washington Post political reporter Felicia Sonmez hopped on Twitter to tweet about rape allegations made against the retired player as details about his tragic death were coming in.
In a tweet she has since deleted, she shared a 2016 article from The Daily Beast about the 2003 rape allegations made against Kobe. The headline read “Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession.”
Soon after, her Twitter mentions were flooded with backlash for the insensitive tweet. She then responded to the backlash, doubling down on her initial tweet. She wrote:
”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,” she said in another tweet she deleted.
”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 journalist, you might want to consider that your behavior says more about you than the person you’re targeting,” she wrote in yet another tweet deleted from her timeline.
Twitter users were shocked and appalled, including Donald Trump Jr.:
You @washingtonpost reporters really can’t help yourselves, can you? https://t.co/Mn2p13mjS5
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 26, 2020
This is gross. A woman lost her husband and child today. Kids lost their father and sister. Children all over the world lost their hero. People are grieving. Maybe give it a day before you trample on the memories of the deceased.
— Bridget Phetasy (@BridgetPhetasy) January 26, 2020
Seriously? How low and trashy must you be. The man and his daugther just died, his family is dealing with unconscionable pain. You couldn’t wait to post this? Smh @washingtonpost, people expect better from a journalist who represents your band! https://t.co/7UcP2zpUEF
— Shermichael Singleton (@Shermichael_) January 26, 2020
Washington Post reporter @feliciasonmez deleted her crass tweets about Kobe Bryant. But screen grabs are forever – and I took some before she deleted the tweets.
Bye, Felicia. pic.twitter.com/IvNZHkiBam
— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) January 26, 2020
Washington Post issued a statement to Fox News saying her tweets “displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.” The political reporter was reportedly placed on administrative leave, which means, she still could possibly keep her job.
“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,“ Washington Post managing editor Tracy Grant told Fox News.
Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California Sunday morning as they were headed to Gianna’s basketball game. Throughout his career, Kobe would travel via his helicopter as transportation to get through LA traffic.
Former TMZ editor Gillian Sheldon reported heavily about the rape allegations against Kobe and said covering his trial in Colorado is what kickstarted her career. While she may have felt some type of way about Kobe when he was here on the earth, her opinion of him has changed.
In a lengthy Facebook post, she wrote:
“I’ve spent the last nearly 24 hours thinking. I couldn’t sleep because I’ve been thinking. As many of you know, covering his trial in Colorado started my career in LA. I spent six weeks in Vail- literally lived in a hotel. I met his accuser. Her friends. I spoke daily with Kobe’s attorneys, his agent, reps for the Lakers. I met his friends. I was one of a dozen people who, due to a court clerk’s error, was accidentally sent sealed testimony and evidence. We were ordered by the court to never reveal the contents and gagged from ever talking about it. That year was monumental for me. I, despite having a job offer in NY, I decided to stay in LA. I met the man who would be my husband. My dear friends got married. I launched a brand that turned out to be one of the biggest in the world (the irony of how the news was broken is definitely not lost on me). I spent the better part of the last 15 years thinking about that whenever I would see him play, when he was on TV, when he retired.”
“Over time, though, I thought a lot about redemption. About behavior that is learned and cultivated not by one’s family, but by our culture and society. I thought about him as a dad. I thought about people that I love dearly and respect who were huge fans of his. I don’t know. Should we all be judged on our worst day? Can people change? Can you learn and grow? That’s the essence of being human right? My heart breaks for Vanessa today as it did then. I never really connected how the events surrounding one person could affect my life until yesterday.”
“That time, those days, and afterwards was monumental for me. I think that’s why I was so conflicted for so long. I cared. I wanted us all to be better. I wondered what was wrong with me. How could I not see the value of a person who was so loved and inspired so many? I do now. And whatever my opinions were, they’re now slowly being replaced with what I am seeing and hearing from friends and people I have never met. About what he meant for them. What he did for them. Kindness, inspiration, love. I also see a loving dad, just taking his daughter to basketball practice. Being proud of his bad ass daughters on and off the court. I know that feeling. I am sending love to all of the families and loved ones who were lost, to the city of LA, and to all the fans who are devastated. I am in a way too. Thinking about how I sat in judgement of another back then, I’m a little ashamed (but did I have a right to be? I dunno.). More than anything, I’m just sad. #ripkobe #ripgigi”
Sadly, Kobe wasn’t alive to see himself get inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame. Players aren’t eligible for the Hall of Fame until they have been fully retired from play for at least three years. Kobe retired in 2016. The Basketball Hall of Fame is bypassing the normal election process and they’re the 18-time all-star, a five-time NBA champion the first inductee of the 2020 class.
“Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett,” Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo told The Athletic. “Kobe will be honoured the way he should be.”
On February 14th, the other 2020 finalists will be announced during All-Star Weekend. The rest of the class will be announced in April at the Final Four, and Kobe’s posthumous induction will take place in Springfield, Mass., on August 29th.
Beyond The Court: Honoring Kobe Bryant’s Legacy As A Family Man!