Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez spoke out Tuesday evening for the first time since her reinstatement, blasting the decision to suspend her for a series of tweets relating to rape allegations against Kobe Bryant.
Sonmez said in a statement shared on Twitter hours after her reinstatement that Post executive editor Marty Baron’s handling of the incident left her unconvinced of management’s commitment to the truth.
“I believe that Washington Post readers and employees, including myself, deserve to hear directly from Marty Baron on the newspaper’s handling of this matter,” Sonmez said in her statement posted to Twitter.
“Washington Post journalists endeavor to live up to the paper’s mission statement, which states, ‘The newspaper shall tell ALL the truth so far as it can learn it, concerning the important affairs of America and the world,’ ” Sonmez added.
“My suspension, and Mr. Baron’s Jan. 26 email warning me that my tweets about a matter of public record were ‘hurting this institution,’ have unfortunately sown confusion about the depth of management’s commitment to this goal."
The Post declined to comment to The Hill about the statement.
I believe that Washington Post readers and employees, including myself, deserve to hear directly from @PostBaron on the newspaper’s handling of this matter. My statement on The Post’s decision tonight: pic.twitter.com/t5ULzUQhYT— Felicia Sonmez (@feliciasonmez) January 29, 2020
The newspaper initially said Sonmez, who covers national politics, was placed on administrative leave pending a review of whether her tweets about Bryant, who was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash along with his daughter and seven others, violated company social media policy.
Baron emailed Sonmez to tell her she was “hurting the institution by doing this” after she tweeted a 2016 Daily Beast article about the 2003 criminal charges, which were dropped in 2004 after Bryant’s accuser decided against testifying. They settled out of court the following year.
On Tuesday, managing editor Tracy Grant said the newspaper had “determined that, while we consider Felicia's tweets ill-timed, she was not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy."
It wasn't immediately clear if the Post's suspension stemmed from Sonmez's initial tweet about the Bryant rape case, or later tweets in which she shared about death threats she was receiving and reportedly included full names of some people who sent her emails.
Sonmez tweeted Sunday: “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.”
Updated on Jan. 29 at 6:43 a.m.