‘Sexist’ tweet sets off infighting, recriminations among Washington Post reporters

A female Washington Post reporter accused the newspaper in more than a dozen tweets Tuesday morning of overlooking complaints about a male colleague’s “sexist” social media posts.

Political reporter Felicia Sonmez, who blasted colleague David Weigel in a public Twitter feud last week for retweeting a joke about women, also questioned the Jeff Bezos-owned daily’s commitment to tolerance and diversity in the Twitter thread.

“One female colleague in the newsroom recently told me — before this recent episode — that she had flagged one of @daveweigel’s tweets to an editor,” Ms. Sonmez wrote in one tweet. “She told the editor she likely would have been reprimanded for the same tweet. The editor’s answer? ‘You’re not Dave Weigel.’”

On Wednesday, Mr. Weigel retweeted the joke: “Every girl is bi. You just have to figure out if it’s polar or sexual.”

Ms. Sonmez responded on Friday: “Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!”

Mr. Weigel, whom the newspaper suspended on Monday for one month without pay, deleted his post and apologized, though the apology failed to end the public exchange. 

The feud escalated when features reporter Jose Del Real criticized Ms. Sonmez in a tweet for “rallying the internet to attack him for a mistake he made.”

Mr. Del Real, who identified himself as a “gay Mexican American,” told Ms. Sonmez that her response to Weigel’s “unacceptable” tweet “doesn’t solve anything.”

As the argument continued throughout the weekend, Washington Post Executive Editor Sally Buzbee sent a memo admonishing reporters to maintain “an inclusive and respectful environment.”

“When issues arise, please raise them with leadership or human resources and we will address them promptly and firmly,” Ms. Buzbee wrote.

Ms. Sonmez shared excerpts from the memo in her tweets on Tuesday morning but cited an internal report on social media use to question the Post’s commitment to its own policies.

“Are there different rules for different people here … Apparently, even our own editors think so,” she wrote.

Ms. Sonmez made headlines in early 2020 when the Post briefly suspended her for mentioning a rape allegation against NBA star Kobe Bryant hours after he and his family died in a helicopter crash.

After revealing herself as a sexual assault survivor, she sued the Post for banning her from covering sexual misconduct stories, a lawsuit that was tossed out of court last month.

Her tweets on Tuesday shared internal messages from Post editors confirming that she remains banned from covering sexual misconduct.

The Washington Post declined to comment Tuesday on Ms. Somnez’s ongoing tweets. But Chief Operating Officer Kris Coratti Kelly told the New York Post on Friday that the newspaper did not condone Mr. Weigel’s tweet.

“Editors have made clear to the staff that the tweet was reprehensible and demeaning language or actions like that will not be tolerated,” she said.

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