The Washington Post fired political reporter Felicia Sonmez on Thursday after publicly criticizing the paper and her colleagues on social media constantly for nearly an entire week.
After starting drama within her company on social media over a harmless joke, Sonmez was repeatedly asked to stop publicly disparaging The Post and her coworkers multiple times, but she just kept on tweeting.
The drama began when fellow Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel retweeted a joke that feminists like Sonmez took offense at.
“Every girl is bi. You just have to figure out if it’s polar or sexual,” the tweet shared by Weigel read.
Sonmez immediately threw a fit, sharing a screenshot of the tweet and writing: “Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!”
On Monday, after she rallied enough of an outcry over the allegedly offensive tweet, the Washington Post suspended Weigel for a month without pay, even after he had already issued a public apology.
Her public feud with Weigel was not the only dispute between Sonmez and her colleagues. Washington Post reporter Jose A. Del Real came to the defense of Weigel, calling for civility among colleagues and insinuating that her repeated attacks on her co-worker had become more about “clout chasing and bullying.”
Del Real, a features writer for the newspaper, acknowledged that Weigel’s retweet was “terrible and unacceptable,” but criticized Sonmez for “rallying the internet to attack him for a mistake he made.”
“Felicia, we all mess up from time to time. Engaging in repeated and targeted public harassment of a colleague is neither a good look nor is it particularly effective. It turns the language of inclusivity into clout chasing and bullying. I don’t think this is appropriate,” Del Real told Sonmez.
“Dave’s retweet is terrible and unacceptable. But rallying the internet to attack him for a mistake he made doesn’t actually solve anything. We all mess up in some way or another. There is such a thing as challenging with compassion,” he added.
Felicia, we all mess up from time to time. Engaging in repeated and targeted public harassment of a colleague is neither a good look nor is it particularly effective. It turns the language of inclusivity into clout chasing and bullying. I don’t think this is appropriate.
— Jose A. Del Real (@jdelreal) June 4, 2022
Ultimately, Sonmez decided that — instead of listening to Del Real and ending her feud with Weigel — she would throw a second public tantrum, this time at Del Real for daring to tell her to stop calling out “comments denigrating women.”
She noted that it was “important that all those who saw Dave’s tweet also see Washington Post reporters standing up for our newspaper’s value.”
Following the feud, Del Real temporarily deactivated his Twitter account. After rejoining the platform, he blocked Sonmez from viewing his tweets.
Sonmez’s drama with her colleagues led Washington Post executive editor Sally Buzbee to send an internal staff memo to the reporters, telling them “to treat each other with respect and kindness both in the newsroom and online.”
Of course, Sonmez refused to listen, continuing her drama by going on a lengthy rant about Del Real on Tuesday.
Sonmez did not heed Buzbee’s internal memo as she continued a lengthy Twitter tirade about Del Real on Tuesday.
Another reporter, Lisa Rein, who covers the federal government for the Post, responded to the tweet thread with a simple plea: “Please stop.”
Buzbee reportedly sent a second internal memo to staff on Tuesday, stating: “We do not tolerate colleagues attacking colleagues either face to face or online.”
The day before the Washington Post fired Sonmez, the chief spokesman for the paper, Kris Coratti, spoke with CNN, revealing that the issue was “being addressed directly with the individuals involved.”
On the day of her firing, prior to the official announcement, Sonmez went on another lengthy Twitter rant, this time complaining about the Post’s alleged “longstanding and serious problem” of punishing employees “for their trauma.”
I stand by what I wrote in that email. In 2018, I was punished after I told my editors I needed to take a walk around the block after reading a difficult story.
Other colleagues have been punished for their trauma far more recently, but their stories aren’t mine to tell. 1/ https://t.co/uLXvL2fVmA
— Felicia Sonmez (@feliciasonmez) June 9, 2022
She also attacked the paper’s “white” employees for “disparaging” her in the media.
“I don’t know who the colleagues anonymously disparaging me in media reports are. But I do know that the reporters who issued synchronized tweets this week downplaying the Post’s workplace issues have a few things in common with each other,” Sonmez wrote.
“They are all white – They are among the highest-paid employees in the newsroom, making double and even triple what some other National desk reporters are making, particularly journalists of color – They are among the ‘stars’ who ‘get away with murder’ on social media,” she added.
Sonmez sued the Washington Post for discrimination in 2021, but the lawsuit was dismissed this year by a D.C. judge because she failed to show a “discriminatory motive.”