Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez led the outrage towards colleague Dave Weigel over a retweet that mocked women, resulting in a suspension. But Weigel came to Sonmez's defense when she herself landed in hot water with the paper.
Last week, Weigel shared a joke by YouTube host Cam Harless, who said, "Every girl is bi. You just have to figure out if it’s polar or sexual."
Sonmez then shared a screenshot of that retweet and called him out as well as their employer.
"Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!" Sonmez reacted.
The Washington Post condemned the retweet, telling Fox News, "Editors have made clear to the staff that the tweet was reprehensible and demanding language or actions like that will not be tolerated."
Weigel also removed the retweet from his Twitter page and issued an apology, saying he "did not mean to cause any harm."
CNN broke the news on Monday that Weigel was placed on a one-month unpaid suspension.
Weigel did not immediately respond to Fox News' requests for comment. An auto-response from Weigel's work email replied, "I am out of the office and will return on July 5." A spokesperson for the Washington Post declined to comment.
But back in 2020, Sonmez found herself in a similar situation as being the target of viral outrage.
As the breaking news of NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant's tragic death was still unfolding, Sonmez shared a 2016 story about 2003 rape allegations from The Daily Beast headlined, "Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession," as details of the helicopter crash were still trickling out.
Sonmez doubled down with numerous follow-up tweets when her initial message was hit with an onslaught of backlash, writing that the response was "eye-opening," and claiming she received abuse and death threats.
"Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality… even if that public figured is beloved and that totality unsettling," Sonmez wrote. "That folks are responding with rage & threats toward me… speaks volumes about the pressure people come under to stay silent in these cases."
Sonmez eventually deleted the tweets, but her employer wasn’t pleased and placed her on administrative leave pending a review.
"National political reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed on administrative leave while The Post reviews whether tweets about the death of Kobe Bryant violated The Post newsroom’s social media policy. The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues," Washington Post managing editor Tracy Grant told Fox News at the time.
The Post's harsh punishment of its reporter itself faced backlash from inside the paper. The Washington Post Guild condemned the decision in an open letter to the managing editor as well as executive editor Marty Baron.
"We understand the hours after Bryant’s death Sunday were a fraught time to share reporting about past accusations of sexual assault," the guild wrote. "But we believe it is our responsibility as a news organization to tell the public the whole truth as we know it -- about figures and institutions both popular and unpopular, at moments timely and untimely."
The Guild then mentioned the paper "sought to control" Sonmez when she came forward in 2018 with a sexual assault claim against former Los Angeles Times bureau chief Jonathan Kaiman.
"The Post’s handling of this issue shows utter disregard for best practices in supporting survivors of sexual violence — including the practices we use in our own journalism," the Guild continued. "Assault survivors inside and outside this newsroom deserve treatment that is fair and transparent; that does not blame victims or compromise the safety of survivors."
The Post employees then blasted the paper's "arbitrary and over-broad social media policy" that has some colleagues "share contentious opinions on social media platforms without sanction" but only Sonmez is "being censured for making a statement of fact."
"The Post has failed to offer a clear explanation of why she was placed on leave — to Felicia or to anyone else. We are concerned by The Post's unwillingness to be transparent about this issue, and alarmed by the implication that reporters will be penalized for talking about any topic not on their beat," the letter concluded.
Among the dozens of signatories who defended Sonmez in that open letter was Dave Weigel.
The Post reversed Sonmez's suspension, concluding her tweets did not violate the company's social media policies, prompting Weigel to make a celebratory tweet.
Fox News reached out to Sonmez with inquiries regarding whether she supported Weigel's suspension or if she can draw any parallels between the backlash from his retweet to her tweets about Kobe Bryant. Sonmez declined to comment.
Before Weigel's suspension, however, Sonmez did refer to her colleague as a "good friend," writing "It’s painful and confusing when friends say and do things that are wrong, and makes it all the more uncomfortable to call them out — even though it’s necessary to do so."
While there is yet to be an organized effort among Post staffers to reinstate Weigel, he did find a vocal defender in the form of fellow reporter Jose A. Del Real, who pushed back against Sonmez's public shaming of their colleague.
"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, adding, "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."
"Jose, Dave’s retweet was indeed terrible and unacceptable. It was also public, and it’s important that all those who saw Dave’s tweet also see Washington Post reporters standing up for our newspaper’s values — one of which is that comments denigrating women will not be tolerated," Sonmez replied.
After Del Real urged Sonmez to "reconsider the cruelty you regularly unleash against colleagues," which she denied, he wrote, I reject your attempt to make a specific critique of your regular public bullying into a sweeping opera about principles."
The clashing among Post staffers prompted their boss, executive editor Sally Buzbee to send a memo telling them to "treat each other with respect and kindness" after the incident fueled more combative Twitter exchanges among colleagues.
While the memo did not reference any reporter by name, Buzbee added, "The Washington Post is committed to an inclusive and respectful environment free of harassment, discrimination or bias of any sort. When issues arise, please raise them with leadership or human resources and we will address them promptly and firmly."
Fox News' Brian Flood contributed to this report.