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Washington Post Confirms Suspension of Reporter Following Kobe Bryant Tweets

The Washington Post has suspended national political news reporter Felicia Sonmez following her tweets around late NBA star Kobe Bryant’s rape allegation and the backlash she received online.

The outlet confirmed to Variety that it has taken action against Sonmez.

Tracy Grant, managing editor of The Washington Post, said: “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.“

Sonmez tweeted a link from The Daily Beast, published Apr. 11, 2016, with the headline “Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession.”

However, it is believed that the tweet that prompted her suspension is a screenshot of her work inbox showing the extent of the backlash she received – a disclosure that goes against the outlet’s policies. The journalist has since taken down the tweets but screenshots are still being circulated online.

At the time, Sonmez responded with tweets that said: “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. 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.”

Sonmez’s beat includes breaking news from the White House, Congress and the campaign trail. Previous stints include a four-year period in Beijing, where she was a correspondent for Agence France-Presse and later the editor of The Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report.

The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos’ Nash Holdings.

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