The Washington Post fired national political reporter Felicia Sonmez, according to published reports. Her reported termination comes after Sonmez lambasted the Jeff Bezos-owned paper’s leadership and engaged in highly public feuds on Twitter with other staffers.
The Post’s firing of Sonmez was first reported by the Daily Beast. A rep for the Washington Post did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Sonmez hasn’t commented on Twitter and did not respond to an email request for comment.
Earlier this week, the Washington Post suspended political reporter Dave Weigel without pay for 30 days after he retweeted a sexist joke on June 3 and was called out on Twitter by Sonmez, who quoted the tweet in question and wrote, “Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!” Weigel quickly removed the retweet and apologized.
Sonmez’s public rebuke of Weigel prompted another Post reporter, Jose Del Real, to respond in a series of tweets, writing in part, “I hope you reconsider the cruelty you regularly unleash against colleagues.” In response, Sonmez wrote, “When women stand up for themselves, some people respond with even more vitriol… Objecting to sexism is not ‘clout chasing.’ It’s not ‘harassment.’ And it’s certainly not ‘cruelty.'”
The infighting led Washington Post executive editor Sally Buzbee to distribute a memo Sunday to the newsroom that said in part, “We expect the staff to treat each other with respect and kindness both in the newsroom and online. We are a collegial and creative newsroom doing an astonishing amount of important and groundbreaking journalism.”
The controversy continued Monday, after Post video technician Breanna Muir reportedly responded to Buzbee’s memo to support Sonmez and cited the case of one of Muir’s colleague mistakenly identifying her in a tweet as “Breanna Taylor.” Buzbee sent another memo Tuesday more firmly stating that “we do not tolerate colleagues attacking colleagues either face to face or online.”
Following her boss’ latest memo, Sonmez tweeted sarcastically Tuesday night, “So I hear The Washington Post is a collegial workplace” and included a screenshot showing that Del Real had blocked her on Twitter. In reply, another Post reporter, Lisa Rein, wrote, “Please stop.”
Sonmez continued to criticize her employer on Twitter. On Thursday, she wrote as part of a thread, “Right now, the Post is a place where many of us fear our trauma will be used against us, based on the company’s past actions… That is a longstanding and serious problem at the Post — and many other news organizations as well.”
Sonmez had previously sued the Washington Post, accusing the publication of discrimination after she publicly said that she had been the victim of sexual assault and that the publication barred her from covering stories about sexual misconduct. In March, a judge threw out her lawsuit against the Post. Sonmez’s lawyer had said she intends to appeal the decision.
In January 2020, Sonmez was temporarily suspended by the Post after she posted a link on Twitter to a Daily Beast story with the headline, “Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession,” after Bryant died in a helicopter crash.