Former LA Lakers player Kobe Bryant has passed away. We all saw the tragic news this weekend of his premature death in a helicopter crash that also killed his daughter, Gianna. He was 41 years old. Bryant was an 18x All-Star, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, 5x champion, and two-time Olympic champion. He amassed over 33,000 points in his career, being drafted first round by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996. He was traded to the LA Lakers shortly thereafter and the rest is history. He retired in 2016, scoring a whopping 60 points in his final game. He was going to be inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame—no question. He was an ambassador of the game and transcendent character off the court, with his support for various charities and causes.
The Bryant family was shattered, so what does a Washington Post reporter do? She dredges up his sexual assault allegation from 2003. Reporter Felicia Sonmez shared that on Twitter, got rightfully dragged for it, and then complained about her being trashed for trying to smear Bryant literally hours after he had died. The Post has now suspended Sonmez (via Fox News):
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.— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) January 26, 2020
Bye, Felicia. pic.twitter.com/IvNZHkiBam
Washington Post reporter examines the tragic helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and three others, and identifies the real victim: herself. https://t.co/x9qG5QTure— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) January 26, 2020
This is beyond poor taste. This is disgusting. Kobe Bryant’s wife just lost her husband and teenage daughter. Time and a place - and this ain’t it. https://t.co/weyBQemR1C— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) January 26, 2020
The Washington Post placed a political reporter on administrative leave over tweets she sent as news of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death were still unfolding.
The paper said the tweets "displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues."
Post reporter Felicia Sonmez shared a 2016 story about 2003 rape allegations from The Daily Beast headlined, “Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession,” as details of the helicopter crash were still trickling out.
Sonmez doubled down with numerous follow-up tweets when her initial message was hit with an onslaught of backlash, writing that the response was “eye-opening,” and claiming she received abuse and death threats.
Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality… even if that public figured is beloved and that totality unsettling,” Sonmez wrote. “That folks are responding with rage & threats toward me… speaks volumes about the pressure people come under to stay silent in these cases.”
Sonmez eventually deleted the tweets but her employer wasn’t pleased and placed her on administrative leave pending a review.
Journalist Matthew Keys, who is also cited in the Fox News piece, noted that someone at the publication told him that Sonmez’s suspension was not due to the Daily Beast article but the screenshot of her inbox from a person who had emailed her a blistering response to her actions on Twitter. This person’s name was not redacted:
It was the third tweet that showed her email inbox that landed her in hot water with the company, in part because it contained the purported full names of those who sent her an email, according to a Washington Post employee who spoke with The Desk on condition of anonymity.
“Her managers don’t care about the Daily Beast tweet,” the Post employee said. “But there’s a concern that the screen shot (of her email inbox) might create some legal issues and could violate Twitter’s terms (of service).”
Sonmez has deleted the tweets related to Bryant and the ensuing social media dragging. As many have said, there is a time and place. And this wasn’t it. As for the wider Me Too nonsense that will soon rear its ugly head because of the sexual assault allegation in 2003, this is sadly going to happen. There will be angry hordes of these people trying to smear Kobe. He was never tried or convicted for rape. The case was dismissed after the accuser refused to testify and Bryant admitted to being unfaithful to his wife. A civil suit was settled out of court. In the Me Too world, your guilty once accused, so expect in the midst of the Trump impeachment trial a few pieces on why Kobe is a bad, bad man, which will be ignored by regular folks.
Before he died, Bryant congratulated LeBron James for surpassing him in career points scored:
Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother ???? #33644— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 26, 2020
Rest in peace, Mamba.
Kobe Bryant will be a first-ballot enshrinement into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2020.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 27, 2020
"Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett," HOF chairman Jerry Colangelo says. "Kobe will be honored the way he should be."
A moment from NBC's coverage of the 2008 Olympics that I will always remember. Kobe Bryant telling Cris Collinsworth about the first time he received his USA uniform. pic.twitter.com/0gNctphYcI— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) January 26, 2020
This destroyed me. pic.twitter.com/JKFf4CiAWi— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) January 26, 2020
This clip of Kobe explaining the game to his daughter went viral just last week too. pic.twitter.com/LM73m3a9Zk— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) January 26, 2020
Also, Felica, it could be worse--you could have allegedly dropped the n-word on live television like this MSNBC reporter speaking about Byrant's death:
Uncensored version: MSNBC anchor inexplicably swaps “n*ggers” in for “Lakers” while reporting on Kobe Bryant death pic.twitter.com/d6oLHfJfbm— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 26, 2020