UPDATE: The Washington Post has suspended Felicia Sonmez for her posts following the death of Kobe Bryant.
The world was stunned and saddened by the news of NBA Legend and former Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s sudden death early Sunday morning in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles. Bryant was one of nine people including his 15-year-old daughter that was among the dead in the horrific crash. While the overwhelming majority of decent human beings gave their condolences to the families of the victims, Washington Post journalist Felicia Sonmez along with many of her peers felt like it was a good time to remind the world about his 2003 sexual assault case within hours of his reported death.
Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post retweeted a Daily Beast Article, a progressive outlet that has long condemned Kobe Bryant over the years. Given the timing and the fact that the full-body count hadn’t even been made public yet, the response to Sonmez was angry and swift, but she doubled down and even made herself the victim.
Sadly, Sonmez was not the only journalist who sharpen their knives against the decreased NBA Legend, Reddit user AntonioOfVenice compiled a list of posts from journalists and reporters of multiple outlets who couldn’t read the room and decided to add their two cents on Bryant’s past.
Adam Rosenberg (Mashable):
Some advice for the men in the room specifically: You’re gonna see people say not to forget about Kobe’s rape allegations and it might bum you out. That’s fine. Keep it to yourself, or off Twitter. At the very least, don’t reply directly to the person who raised that point.
I mean, fuck. This whole situation is terrible enough. Everyone’s going to process in their own way, and that means people will feel differently than you do. Your feelings are valid as long as they’re not intruding on someone else’s feelings. Let people air what they will. source
Sarah Kelly (ex-Washington Post, SB Nation):
Yes, people can mourn “imperfect” people. But please be honest about the fact that you’re publicly mourning a rapist. It’s not sexual assault survivors’ fault that this is complicated.
And by “be honest,” I mean don’t get defensive about your grief. I didn’t follow the NBA as a kid so my most vivid Kobe memory is learning what happens to women who accuse powerful men of rape. If that bothers you, well, that’s not my fault, it’s his. source
Versha Sharma (Nowthisnews):
This is an informative rundown of the rape case against Kobe [link to fake news Daily Beast]. Celebrity legacies are complicated and Kobe meant a lot to Black, youth and sports communities, which shouldn’t be underplayed. We can also strive to provide a full picture of these legacies. source
Thomas Bassinger (Tampa Bay Times):
Amid the mourning for Kobe Bryant, it’s okay to remember things that would be convenient to forget or ignore, like rape accusations. Not everyone has to feel the way you do. source
Lauren Hough (Vintage/Anchor Books):
In before the eulogies begin: Kobe Bryant was a fucking rapist.
He was though. [link to Daily Beast] source
Cory Lavalette (North State Journal):
Coverage/commentary about Kobe’s death can certainly include mention of his rape/assault accusations. Dying doesn’t absolve him of that — and attacking people who point it out ain’t the answer, folks. source
Danielle Campoamor (NYTimes, Wash Post, NBC, CNN, et al.)
My thoughts are & will remain w/all the victims & survivors who will, once again, watch on as horrific rape allegations are glossed over or ignored entirely cuz a guy could play a sport really well. Your stories, your trauma, & your humanity matter more than career stats. #Kobe source
Lena Bleitz (Spectrum News Austin):
The Kobe coverage is likely going to be very triggering for many sexual assault survivors. If you need support, I’m here for you. source
Emily McCarty (Crosscut, NYT, CBC, et al.)
“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.”
Kobe Bryant, re: sexual assault of a 19-year-old. source
Danielle Cadet (managing editor Refinery29, ex-ESPN):
It’s possible to feel overwhelming sadness for Vanessa Bryant & her remaining daughters AND acknowledge Kobe Bryant as an iconic athlete AND believe victims of sexual violence. It’s complicated. And that’s ok. source
Hari Sreenivasan (PBS):
Just had a good chat with @MikeWiseguy about Kobe for @Newshour on FB – About his life on the court and off, his relationship with Shaq & the 2003 sexual assault charge. (Life is complex, it doesn’t get simpler after death.) source
Clara Jeffery (Mother Jones):
I have never seen such erasure of a rape victim as is happening right now. source
For a group of people who despise being called the enemy of the people, they live up to the label every passing day.