Washington Put up fires reporter at heart of on-line battle


The Washington Put up has fired Felicia Sonmez, who triggered a vigorous on-line debate this week over social media coverage and public therapy of colleagues after she criticized a fellow reporter for retweeting an offensive joke.

The Put up mentioned Friday it might not touch upon personnel points. However a duplicate of a termination letter despatched Thursday, accusing her of “insubordination, maligning your coworkers on-line and violating the Put up’s requirements on office collegiality and inclusivity” was revealed on the Mediaite web site and quoted in different information accounts.

The outspoken political author, whose second stint on the Put up started in 2018, declined to remark Friday.

The incident started when Sonmez tweeted a display shot of an offensive joke {that a} colleague, Dave Weigel, had despatched out on Twitter, including the remark: “Incredible to work at a information outlet the place retweets like this are allowed.” The Put up suspended Weigel for a month for his retweet, in accordance with revealed stories.

That prompted one other reporter, Jose Del Actual, to criticize Sonmez on-line. Whereas saying Weigel had been mistaken, Del Actual referred to as for compassion. “Rallying the Web to assault him for a mistake he made would not really resolve something,” he wrote.

That led to a contentious back-and-forth, with Sonmez accusing Del Actual of attacking her.

As a web-based debate widened and drew in additional individuals, Put up government editor Sally Buzbee despatched out two memos calling on employees members to indicate respect for one another. The second, on Tuesday, was extra stern: Buzbee wrote that “we don’t tolerate colleagues attacking colleagues both head to head or on-line.”

Because it consumed extra consideration, a handful of Put up workers tweeted their help of the newspaper as a very good place to work. Sonmez famous that these individuals have been among the many newspaper’s best-paid stars, and advised there was a long-standing double normal in how social media coverage is utilized to them.

She additionally retweeted a display shot that mentioned Del Actual had blocked her on Twitter, including the remark, “So I hear the Washington Put up is a collegial office.”

Whereas her tweeted remark was consuming consideration, one other Put up reporter, Lisa Rein, tweeted to Sonmez: “please cease.”

Sonmez, who labored for the Put up within the early 2010s, left and rejoined, sued the Put up and its high editors final 12 months, charging discrimination in barring her from overlaying tales associated to sexual assault after she had beforehand gone public as an assault sufferer herself.

Her termination was first reported by The Each day Beast and has been coated by the Put up itself. Within the termination letter, signed by Human Assets Officer Wayne Connell, the Put up says that in questioning the motives of colleagues, Sonmez was undermining the Put up’s status for journalistic integrity and equity.

“The identical is true of your baseless derision directed to our insurance policies and practices, and our dedication to a secure and supportive work surroundings,” he wrote.

Sonmez’s union, the Washington-Baltimore Information Guild, mentioned it’s dedicated to making sure that employees are solely disciplined with simply trigger, however that it didn’t touch upon particular person personnel points.

One Put up columnist, Karen Attiah, tweeted on Friday that Sonmez had “at all times been extremely variety and supportive” of her, and had reached out when Attiah had been the goal of on-line abuse.

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