For a few days, the editorial staff of Washington Postone of the most authoritative and daily reads in the world, she is involved in a heated discussion public born when an important political journalist of the newspaper retweeted a sexist joke, arousing criticism and blame in particular from a colleague who for days accused the management of not taking the issue seriously enough. The reporter, who in the meantime had apologized, was suspended without pay for a month after some initial hesitation, but the reporter is continuing to attack her bosses, attracting a lot of criticism in turn.
The offending tweet, written by a youtuber, said: “Every girl is bi. You just have to figure out whether -polar or -sexual. ‘ Dave Weigel, a 41-year-old policy reporter who works at the Washington Post for many years, he retweeted it, and shortly afterwards his colleague Felicia Sonmez, who is also part of the political editorial board, he asked for an account joke in an internal chat on the Slack business messaging app. However, she was not satisfied with the responses received by the management, and so she posted a screenshot on Twitter with the comment: “It’s great to work for a newspaper where similar retweets are allowed!”.
Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed! pic.twitter.com/zs4dX4qprH
– Felicia Sonmez (@feliciasonmez) June 3, 2022
Weigel then apologized and removed the retweet, writing that he did not want to “hurt anyone”. He hasn’t made any other comments since. His suspension without pay has not been officially confirmed, but has been reported from CNN. In the following days, however, a long and resentful public discussion developed and dragged on, involving part of the editorial staff and other commentators and journalists, attracting attention and embarrassment to the journalists and managers of the newspaper.
The discussion was animated above all by Sonmez, who has since published dozens of tweets on the affair. First to criticize Weigel, those who defended him and the leadership of the Washington Post for the mild response to the sexist joke, and then to defend his obstinacy in criticizing Weigel. Meanwhile, other reporters accused her of attracting disproportionate attention to the story and of personalizing the issue, in turn generating hundreds of aggressive comments against Weigel.
I just removed a retweet of an offensive joke. I apologize and did not mean to cause any harm.
– David Weigel (@daveweigel) June 3, 2022
On Twitter the discussion has been going on for days, with very bright tones. Sonmez says an attempt is underway to silence her, for bringing to everyone’s attention a problem of sexism in the newsroom: a typical phenomenon when a woman publicly denounces such behavior, she and many others who support her say.
Others, however, continue to accuse her of having gone too far over retweeting a bad joke which, however, was followed by an apology, thus facilitating dynamics of online bullying against Weigel. One journalist in particular, Jose A. Del Real, he asked to Sonmez to have more compassion for a “terrible and unacceptable” joke, but which in his opinion did not deserve that kind of collective reaction, especially since he had apologized. Sonmez had a subsequent hard confrontation with that colleague, who also recalled that, as a gay and Mexican, he knows something about belonging to marginalized groups. At the end Del Real wrote that he considered it a mistake to have meddled in the affair, asking: “Couldn’t we just be kinder to each other?”
And for what it’s worth, I’m a gay Mexican American. You don’t need to educate me on being from a marginalized group.
– Jose A. Del Real (@jdelreal) June 5, 2022
In the meantime, a similar indication had also arrived from the director of the Washington Post Sally Buzbee, who published an internal press release asking that colleagues be treated with respect and kindness “online and offline.” We are a collegial and creative editorial team that does demanding, important and innovative journalistic work. One of the strengths of the Washington Post is our spirit of collaboration. The Washington Post is committed to an inclusive and respectful work environment, free from harassment, discrimination or prejudice of any kind. When issues arise, please refer them to management or human resources and we will deal with them decisively and quickly. “
In the wake of the recent social media dustups involving WaPo journalists, Executive Editor Sally Buzbee sends a memo to journalists admonishing them to treat each other with respect and kindness: pic.twitter.com/nRd5h0kLLD
– Ben Mullin (@BenMullin) June 5, 2022
In short, Buzbee indirectly recalled Sonmez for having publicly managed the issue, creating an image problem for the Washington Post. And Sonmez in turn criticized the leadership for not supporting her, showing that she does not really care about the feminist values that she says she supports. Sonmez also recalled that Weigel’s tweet violates company guidelines for journalists on social media, who are wary of sharing opinions that could be perceived as sexist.
Sonmez then cited another episode concerning her: in January 2020, immediately after the death of basketball player Kobe Bryant in a helicopter accident, he shared a link to an article that reconstructed the rape allegations against him, dating back to to 2003. She had been heavily criticized online for the timing of her tweet, and the Washington Post he had initially suspended it, but then changed his mind after various protests in the editorial office. A letter in defense of Sonmez had been signed by many colleagues, including Weigel.
– David Weigel (@daveweigel) January 29, 2020
Sonmez shared various passages of an internal investigation that was commissioned on that occasion by the Washington Post. Through dozens of interviews with various and various employees, he had detected a difference in treatment between more important and less important journalists, and between journalists and journalists, on the freedoms that could be taken on social media and on the possible consequences of inappropriate public comments. Sonmez complained that on that occasion «the Post punished me for my own trauma, ”and that other reports of tweets deemed problematic have since been ignored by management.
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There is a problem inside the Washington Post – The Post
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