Felicia Sonmez is fired by The Washington Post after Twitter dispute

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Felicia Sonmez, a Washington Post national staff reporter whose criticism of colleagues and the paper on social media in recent days has drawn widespread attention, was fired by the paper on Thursday, according to a termination letter.

Kris Coratti Kelly, a spokesperson for the Post, declined to comment, saying, “We don’t discuss personnel matters.” Executive editor Sally Buzbee also declined to comment on the termination, which was first reported by the Daily Beast.

Contacted by phone, Sonmez said: “I have no comment at this time.”

Sonmez, who worked for The Post from 2010 to 2013 before returning to the paper in 2018, was set to play a key role Thursday night in reporting on the televised hearing of the House select committee on January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. according to a Post editor involved with the coverage.

But in a termination letter Thursday afternoon first reported by the New York Times and seen by a Post reporter, the Post told Sonmez that she was fired “for misconduct that includes insubordination, defamation of her colleagues at online work and violation of the Post’s standards on workplace collegiality. and inclusion”.

Sonmez on Friday used his Twitter account to draw attention to a colleague, David Weigel, for retweeting a sexist joke.

“Fantastic working at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!” Sonmez tweeted in response.

She also complained about Weigel’s retweet on an internal message board.

Weigel apologized for the retweet and deleted it from his account. The Post later suspended him without pay for a month for violating their social media policies. (The Post did not confirm Weigel’s suspension, citing privacy applied to personnel decisions.) In the following days, Sonmez continued to use his Twitter account to focus on the incident, retweeting criticism of Weigel and claiming the Post’s management enforces social media policies unevenly.

Over the weekend, José A. Del Real, another reporter for the Post, urged Sonmez to stop his criticism, tweeting: “Felícia, we all make mistakes from time to time. Engaging in repeated, targeted public harassment of a colleague does not look good, nor is it particularly effective. It turns the language of inclusion into chasing influence and bullying.”

Post editor Buzbee warns staff on Twitter: ‘Be constructive and collegial’

Del Real later tweeted that his back-and-forth with Sonmez sparked a “flood of online abuse directed by one person but carried out by an anxious crowd.”

Sonmez posted screenshots of Del Real’s tweets and wrote, “It’s hard for me to understand why the Washington Post didn’t do anything about these tweets.”

As a result of the altercation, Buzbee on Tuesday took the extraordinary step of warning staff in an email against “attacking colleagues in person or online.”

“Respect for others is fundamental to any civil society, including our newsroom,” Buzbee wrote, referring to The Post’s social media policy, which requires employees to be “constructive and collegial.” Buzbee also advised employees to communicate directly with co-workers to raise concerns.

On Thursday morning, in a Twitter thread criticizing The Post’s newsroom culture, Sonmez commented on a group of political reporters who had tweeted glowing things about the company. “They are among the ‘stars’ who ‘get away with murder’ on social media,” she wrote.

sonmez also tweeted: “I care deeply about my colleagues and I want this institution to support all employees. 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.”

In July 2021, Sonmez filed a lawsuit against the paper and several current and former editors, alleging that she had been discriminated against and retaliated against when editors twice barred her from covering stories related to sexual misconduct after she spoke publicly about being victim of sexual abuse. robbery.

Her complaint centered in part on her claim that editors unfairly punished her for tweets about sexual misconduct. DC Superior Court Judge Anthony C. Epstein dismissed her lawsuit in March.

Sonmez was briefly placed on administrative leave in January 2020 after tweeting hours after the death of NBA star Kobe Bryant about the later dropped criminal rape charges he had faced years earlier. The Washington Post Guild, the union that represents Post employees, issued a statement at the time expressing “alarm and dismay” at the decision.

On Thursday night, Gremio declined to comment on Sonmez’s dismissal or any other personal issues, other than saying that it represents and provides support “to all members facing discipline.”

“The Washington Post Guild’s mission is to ensure equal treatment and protection for all employees and to uplift members as they strive to create a fair and inclusive workplace in which workers can thrive,” the statement said.

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