Washington Post journalist suspended after tweeting about Kobe Bryant rape case hours after his death

Kate Ng
AP

A journalist from the Washington Post has been suspended after tweeting a link to a story about Kobe Bryant’s rape case from 2016 shortly after news of his death was made public.

Felicia Sonmez, a national political reporter for the newspaper, said she received “abuse and death threats” from thousands of people after she tweeted the link to the Daily Beast story.

“Well, THAT was eye-opening,” she said. “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.”

Backlash from fans of Bryant, who died alongside his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday, was swift, with many labelling Ms Sonmez a “terrible person” and generating the hashtag #firefeliciasonmez.

One person said: “@washingtonpost you should #firefeliciasonmez for this classless and heartless post with the passing of an iconic superstar literally HOURS after a horrific crash that also killed his daughter and 7 others along with them.”

Another said: “@washingtonpost @JeffBezos you can’t possibly continue to employ someone this classless, unsympathetic, and unremorseful a person as @feliciasonmez. I don’t agree with cancel culture but this is an exception.”

Ms Sonmez also added a tweet that contained a screenshot of her email inbox with a message containing verbal abuse and the name of the sender clearly visible, which may be the reason for her suspension.

“Hard to see what’s accomplished by messages such as these,” she said. “If your response to a news article is to resort to harassment and intimidation of journalists, you might want to consider that your behaviour says more about you than the person you’re targeting.”

Ms Sonmez has since deleted the tweets and has been placed on “administrative leave”, said Washington Post managing editor, Tracy Grant.

Ms Grant told the Independent: “National political reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed under 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 judgement that undermined the work of her colleagues.”

An anonymous employee from the Washington Post told California-based journalist and blogger Matthew Keys the screenshot may “violate Twitter’s terms of service” as it contained the full name of the email sender and Ms Sonmez’s managers “don’t care about the Daily Beast tweet”.

The private helicopter containing Bryant, 41, and the other victims went down on Sunday morning outside Los Angeles at about 10am. An investigation is underway.

Bryant is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and became a legend at the Los Angeles Lakers.

He was a five-time NBA champion and won an Oscar in 2018 for best short animated film for Dear Basketball.

In 2003, he was charged with sexual assault after a 19-year-old woman accused him of rape. However, the accuser decided not to testify in court and to pursue a civil suit instead. Prosecutors dropped the case the following year.

After the charges were dropped, Bryant said in a statement: “First, I want to apologise directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologise to her for my behaviour that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year.

“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognise now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.

“After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”

The accuser’s civil suit was settled out of court in March 2005 and Bryant never spoke publicly about the case again.

Read more

Kobe Bryant’s helicopter flew in fog that grounded other choppers

  • Americans stranded at Pakistan airport after cruise ship was denied entry to multiple countries over coronavirus fears
    Yahoo News

    Americans stranded at Pakistan airport after cruise ship was denied entry to multiple countries over coronavirus fears

    A plane full of Americans and Canadians was stranded on a tarmac at an airport in Karachi, Pakistan, for several hours on Thursday after it was turned away from multiple countries due to fears of the coronavirus, according to a family member of two of the passengers. Kelly Chrjapin, whose parents were among those on the flight, said the plane contained more than 250 people, all of whom were American and Canadian nationals who had been traveling on the cruise ship MS Westerdam. One passenger from that boat tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month.

  • Police: Couple forced boys off road, angered by Trump flags
    Associated Press

    Police: Couple forced boys off road, angered by Trump flags

    A northwestern Indiana couple allegedly used a car to force two teenage boys off a road, angered that the twin brothers were riding bicycles adorned with flags supporting President Donald Trump, before ripping one of the sibling's flag from his bike, police said Friday. Hobart police said Snapchat videos helped officers secure charges against Kyren Gregory Perry-Jones, 23, and Cailyn Marie Smith, 18, in connection with a July 22 incident. Police Capt. James Gonzales said the Hobart couple are accused of driving in their car, running the 14-year-old boys off of the road, and making threats toward them.

  • No, you step aside: Democratic competitors 'shocked' by Bloomberg suggesting they leave the race
    USA TODAY

    No, you step aside: Democratic competitors 'shocked' by Bloomberg suggesting they leave the race

    Pete Buttigieg agreed with Bloomberg that there should be one alternative to Sanders, but said he – and not Bloomberg – is the obvious choice “Maybe he should step aside for the person who's got the most delegates,” Buttigieg, in a Fox News interview, said of the small lead he has over Sanders from the voting in Iowa and New Hampshire. Poll: Trump defeats all 2020 Democrats in Wisconsin but loses in Pennsylvania and Michigan Matt Grossmann, director of Michigan State University's Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, said there's a lot of merit to Bloomberg's argument that Sanders is the most likely nominee, in part because Democrats who want a different candidate haven't coalesce...

  • Coronavirus Now a ‘Tremendous Public Health Threat’: CDC
    The Daily Beast

    Coronavirus Now a ‘Tremendous Public Health Threat’: CDC

    Federal officials announced Friday that their tally of 2019 novel coronavirus cases in the United States had increased to 34, with more infections expected sooner than later, even as questions lingered about how efforts at containing the deadly illness had fallen short so far. The jump came after the State Department repatriated 18 infected U.S. citizens from aboard a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan. “This new virus represents a tremendous public health threat,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on a call with reporters.

  • A crowd in Ukraine threw bricks at buses carrying coronavirus evacuees from Wuhan to quarantine
    Business Insider

    A crowd in Ukraine threw bricks at buses carrying coronavirus evacuees from Wuhan to quarantine

    REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko A crowd of Ukrainian protesters on Thursday attacked buses ferrying evacuees from Wuhan, China, to a quarantine hospital. The buses were transporting 45 Ukrainians and 27 foreign nationals through Novi Sanzhary in central Ukraine. Nobody on board has been confirmed to have the novel coronavirus.

  • Watch Out! U.S. Army Tanks Could Collapse Polish Bridges On Their Way to Battle Russia
    The National Interest

    Watch Out! U.S. Army Tanks Could Collapse Polish Bridges On Their Way to Battle Russia

    The U.S. Army and its closest allies have a problem. To deter Russia from attacking Poland and the Baltic States, the Army and its NATO allies should deploy heavy armored forces such as M-1 tanks, armored fighting vehicles and self-propelled artillery. RAND, a California think-tank with close ties to the U.S. military, in a February 2020 report underscored the importance of heavy ground forces.

  • 'Enemies of the people': Coronavirus evacuees endure hostile return to Ukraine
    Reuters

    'Enemies of the people': Coronavirus evacuees endure hostile return to Ukraine

    Julia Volok says some of her fellow passengers expected a warm welcome on their arrival in Ukraine after finally being evacuated from the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in China's Hubei province this week. Instead Volok, a 26-year-old Chinese-language student, and her fellow evacuees found their buses being pelted with projectiles by protesters on Thursday as they approached the sanatorium where they have started a mandatory two-week quarantine. Despite repeated reassurances from the government that there was no danger, the protesters feared being infected by the virus.

  • A 15-month-old last seen in December was reported missing only this week
    NBC News

    A 15-month-old last seen in December was reported missing only this week

    A Tennessee sheriff said Friday he believes a 15-month-old girl — last seen in December but only reported missing this week — is still alive. Law enforcement agencies across the state were on the lookout for the toddler and a gray 2007 BMW, with Tennessee stickers, because "individuals traveling" in that vehicle "have information regarding Evelyn Boswell's whereabouts," the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said. The little girl's name was added to the state's database of missing children on Tuesday with a notation: "Evelyn was entered as a missing child on Tuesday February 18, 2020 but was reportedly last seen on December 26, 2019."

  • Quadruple murderer executed in Tennessee
    AFP

    Quadruple murderer executed in Tennessee

    A quadruple murderer was put to death in Tennessee on Thursday despite lawyers asking the US Supreme Court for a stay of execution. Nicholas Sutton, 58, was found guilty of stabbing a fellow inmate to death in 1985. Sutton's lawyers in January asked the state's Republican governor, Bill Lee, to grant clemency, citing expressions of support for Sutton from prison officials.

  • California Gov Newsom Advocates for Doctors to ‘Write Prescriptions for Housing’ to Treat Mental Illness
    National Review

    California Gov Newsom Advocates for Doctors to ‘Write Prescriptions for Housing’ to Treat Mental Illness

    California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday wrote that doctors should be able to prescribe housing like they are able to prescribe medication. “Doctors should be able to write prescriptions for housing the same way they do for insulin or antibiotics,” Newsom wrote in a Twitter post. Newsom then appeared to link the treatment of mental health to his state's housing shortage.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive PAC makes first round of endorsements
    Yahoo News Video

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive PAC makes first round of endorsements

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced Friday her political action committee's first round of endorsements, which will include two progressive candidates challenging sitting Democratic members of Congress.

  • 8 Statement-Making Cabinets to Make Any Room
    Architectural Digest

    8 Statement-Making Cabinets to Make Any Room

    Looking to make a statement? It's an open-and-shut case. Today's new collectible cabinets delight and surprise Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest

  • Trump rallies Nevada GOP ahead of state's Dem caucuses
    Associated Press

    Trump rallies Nevada GOP ahead of state's Dem caucuses

    President Donald Trump rallied supporters in the battleground state of Nevada on the eve of the state's caucuses and predicted chaos once again for Democrats for their management of the voting process, Looking to exploit Democratic divisions as he focuses on his reelection fight, Trump pointed to Iowa, where a tally of the caucus votes ended in chaos earlier this month. I hear their computers are all messed up just like in Iowa," Trump said of Nevada's Democrats. They can't count votes.

  • Iowa Professor Bound and Gagged Husband Before His Death: Cops
    The Daily Beast

    Iowa Professor Bound and Gagged Husband Before His Death: Cops

    An Iowa professor has been charged for allegedly gagging and binding her husband to a chair with rope for hours before his death, authorities said on Wednesday evening. Gowun Park, a 41-year-old assistant economics professor at Simpson College, was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping in the death of her 41-year-old husband, Sung Nam, on Saturday, West Des Moines police told The Daily Beast. Authorities allege Park bound her husband's hands and feet with zip ties before tying him to a chair in their West Des Moines home on Saturday between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Park then allegedly stuffed “an item of clothing” into Nam's mouth to prevent him from yelling in protest before finally using duct tape to place a towel over his head to cover his eyes.

  • Pete Buttigieg quips he's 'a Microsoft Word guy' during Democratic debate and attracts instant Clippy comparisons
    Business Insider

    Pete Buttigieg quips he's 'a Microsoft Word guy' during Democratic debate and attracts instant Clippy comparisons

    Associated Press/Charlie Niebergall Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg quipped he was more of a "Microsoft Word guy" during Wednesday's candidates' debate in Nevada. The remark came after rival Elizabeth Warren described Buttigieg's healthcare plan as "a PowerPoint" and "not a plan." Buttigieg's quip was mocked on social media, with some Twitter users likening him to Microsoft's now-defunct "Clippy" virtual assistant.

  • Coronavirus: Princess Cruises boss under fire for blowing kisses at ship where two have died and 3,000 have been quarantined for weeks
    The Independent

    Coronavirus: Princess Cruises boss under fire for blowing kisses at ship where two have died and 3,000 have been quarantined for weeks

    The president of Princess Cruises welcomed a coronavirus-quarantined ship by blowing kisses and making heart signs, captured on a video set to upbeat music and posted on social media the same day as reports of the deaths of two passengers had surfaced. In a video posted to the company's social media on Wednesday, Jan Swartz is seen wearing a surgical mask and forming heart hands over her head as the cruise ship finally begins to disembark after its passengers were forced to remain at a port in Yokohama, Japan for several weeks following a shipwide outbreak of the flu-like respiratory virus. On Wednesday, officials with the Japanese Ministry of Health confirmed the on-board deaths of an 87-year-old man and an 84-year-old woman, both stricken with the latest coronavirus that has claimed more than 2,000 lives and sickened thousands of others around the globe.

  • This Fighter Jet Is The Biggest Threat To Russia's Su-57 Stealth Fighter (Not the F-35)
    The National Interest

    This Fighter Jet Is The Biggest Threat To Russia's Su-57 Stealth Fighter (Not the F-35)

    Key point: The Su-35S was intended as an interim solution; as a modernized air superiority fighter to sustain the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) through the 2010's until the Su-57 fifth-generation stealth fighter enters serial production. “A unique machine, a deadly aerial fist,” is how the official television channel of the Russian Ministry of Defense introduced the Su-35S superiority fighter earlier this week. TV Zvezda's three-minute clip of a recent Su-35S training sortie over Syria provides close-up shots of the fighter jet being prepped for flight, taking off, cruising over the Syrian coast, and firing flares.

  • Airport worker with no license takes plane for spin near D.C., almost crashes, feds say
    NBC News

    Airport worker with no license takes plane for spin near D.C., almost crashes, feds say

    A Virginia man piloted at least one plane without a license in 2018, in a dangerous journey that ended with a "bounced" landing, federal authorities said. Ryan Guy Parker "knowingly and willfully" flew above suburban Washington D.C., posing a "significant risk of injury and death" to himself and the public, according to an affidavit by U.S. Department of Transportation Special Agent Bret Stolle. In a Sept. 27, 2018 trip out of Shannon Airport in Fredericksburg, Parker nearly crashed on touch down, Stolle wrote.

  • A recurring Biden campaign story about being arrested in South Africa is full of inconsistencies
    The Week

    A recurring Biden campaign story about being arrested in South Africa is full of inconsistencies

    Former Vice President Joe Biden has a pretty good tale to share — but it may be a little tall. Biden, who is running for president, has been spicing up his recent campaign stump speeches with a story of how he was arrested while in South Africa trying to see Nelson Mandela, The New York Times reports. During recent campaign speeches, Biden says he "had the great honor" of meeting Mandela and "of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto." As Miami Herald reporter Alex Daugherty points out, Soweto is a ways away from Robben Island, where Mandela's maximum security prison was located.

  • Housing crisis: Berkeley law would put renters first
    Associated Press

    Housing crisis: Berkeley law would put renters first

    The mayor of Berkeley, California, proposed a new housing policy Thursday aimed at giving renters first dibs when a property goes up for sale, as the state battles a severe housing shortage and homelessness that Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared his top priority. Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin announced a proposed ordinance to give renters "the first refusal and right to purchase" when their apartment buildings or rented homes are put on the market. Berkeley's city council will vote on the idea later this month.

  • Reuters

    Moscow says Russian official detained in Spain after U.S. request

    Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Friday that a Russian official was detained by Spanish police during a working trip on Feb. 14 after her arrest was requested by the United States. The Russian woman, who is now in jail in Tenerife, works for a government organization overseen by a Russian agriculture watchdog and was a part of an official delegation, the ministry said. It added in a statement that her detention "could have been linked to a request from the United States".

  • Bloomberg trolls Trump with billboards as Trump campaigns in West
    CBS News

    Bloomberg trolls Trump with billboards as Trump campaigns in West

    Mike Bloomberg is looking beyond the war being waged against him by the Democratic primary field toward general election opponent President Trump, trolling him with billboards where the president himself is campaigning in the West this week. CBS News has exclusively learned that the billboards are going up in Phoenix and Las Vegas, where Mr. Trump will be campaigning Friday. The billboards are appearing in high visibility areas near a Trump hotel property on the Vegas Strip, and also along potential motorcade routes where the president may see them as he drives by.

  • Man who bought 100-round magazine for Dayton mass shooter sentenced to 32 months
    USA TODAY

    Man who bought 100-round magazine for Dayton mass shooter sentenced to 32 months

    Corrections & Clarifications: Ethan Kollie bought the upper receiver for the semiautomatic rifle used by Connor Betts. CINCINNATI — A man who bought the 100-round magazine and parts for the assault-style rifle used by Connor Betts in last year's mass shooting in Dayton was sentenced Thursday to 32 months in prison. Prosecutors say Ethan Kollie didn't appear to know about Betts' plans.

  • More than 100 wild animals in China died from poisoning in a mass die-off seemingly triggered by coronavirus disinfectant
    Business Insider

    More than 100 wild animals in China died from poisoning in a mass die-off seemingly triggered by coronavirus disinfectant

    STR/AFP via Getty Images More than 100 wild animals were found dead in a Chinese megacity and tests show that they were poisoned by the disinfectant that's being used to combat the coronavirus. At least 17 species of animals, including wild boar, weasels, and blackbirds, were affected by the mass die-off. Nanchong Stray Animal Rescue claims that authorities are killing domesticated animals outright amid fears that they can spread the coronavirus.

  • Racist German Shooter Exposes the Global Network of Hate
    The Daily Beast

    Racist German Shooter Exposes the Global Network of Hate

    Late Wednesday night in the central German city Hanau, a gunman that police have identified as 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen opened fire at two shisha bars. They're the kind of places favored by people who enjoy a laid-back atmosphere as they puff tobacco bubbling through water-filled hookahs, and on any given evening, many of those folks may be from Turkish, Kurdish, or North African backgrounds. They're quiet places for conversation and minding your own business.