The Washington Post gives Felicia Sonmez the boot

The Washington Post was in the headlines this week, but this time, it wasn't only for spreading misinformation.

It had also made itself the news for its staff infighting on Twitter.

It began when WaPo politics reporter Dave Weigel retweeted a "sexist joke" so dull and hackneyed that it isn't even worth repeating.

Weigel's WaPo colleague Felicia Sonmez, with whom he shared a byline in the WaPo in April, was offended by the tweet.  But instead of scolding Weigel in person, she waged her war in public.

Sonmez sarcastically tweeted that it was "[f]antastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!" with a screenshot of Weigel's retweet.

Weigel removed the "offensive tweet" and apologized.

In response, the WaPo suspended Weigel for a month without pay. 

That should have concluded the matter, but Sonmez had just loaded her guns.

Sonmez then tweeted images of another WaPo colleague, Jose Del Real, who had urged her to accept Weigel's apology and stop "repeated and targeted public harassment of a colleague."

Sonmez compared Weigel's tweet to racism and anti-LGBT+ bigotry, implying that Del Real was enabling discrimination.

Sonmez then retweeted both the support and the abuse she received.

WaPo executive editor Sally Buzbee sent a memo advising her colleagues to be respectful and kind to each other.

But Sonmez's outburst continued with a 30-tweet thread alleging editors of preferential treatment for higher-profile reporters and their social media presence.

Buzbee then dispatched another memo, stating that the WaPo does "not tolerate colleagues attacking colleagues."  She pledged to enforce the paper's social media and workplace harassment policies.

Almost simultaneous was an unintentionally comical display of loyalty by WaPo staffers that would make the groveling in totalitarian regimes look subtle.

Reporter Josh Dawsey tweeted that he was "proud" to work at the paper, a place "filled with many terrific people who are smart and collegial."  Four minutes later, reporter Rosalind Helderman, too, tweeted that she was "proud" to work at the Post, which is "always striving to be better than it was yesterday."  Six minutes later, reporter, Amy Gardner tweeted how she was "proud" to work at the paper.  Reporters such as Matt ViserCarol Leonnig, and Dan Balz also pledged pride.

Sonmez remained unimpressed and continued with her tirade.

Finally, the WaPo fired Felicia Sonmez.

Sonmez's termination letter referred to her "misconduct that includes insubordination, maligning your co-workers online, and violating The Post's standards on workplace collegiality and inclusivity."  The letter was leaked to The New York Times.  In a WaPo article about the termination, Buzbee declined to comment.  So did Sonmez. 

Sonmez's anger probably emanates from years of grievances with the paper.

In July 2021, Sonmez filed a lawsuit against the WaPo alleging that she had been discriminated and retaliated against when editors twice barred her from covering stories related to sexual misconduct after she spoke publicly about being a victim of sexual assault.  The case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning the judge forbade her from filing it again in the future in some new form.

Sonmez was briefly placed on administrative leave in January 2020 after tweeting in the hours after NBA star Kobe Bryant's death about the criminal charges of rape, later dropped, he had faced years earlier.

Why should the squabbling within the WaPo be of any consequence?

Because it highlights their hypocrisy and their attitude.

The WaPo cheered on when a "whistleblower" indulged in insubordination in Trump's White House.  The WaPo cheered every former Trump White House staff member who displayed insubordination and disparaged President Trump in public.

The WaPo also cheered the Supreme Court leaker who displayed insubordination in his workplace.

But when an employee blew the whistle about discrimination within the paper and wants a public trial about the paper's alleged toxic work culture, they fire her and remain tightlipped about it.  They also demand a pledge of loyalty from others.

Democracy within the WaPo has truly died in the darkness of the corridors of the WaPo offices. 

Let's indulge in some what-if analysis.

What if a female staffer within Trump's White House had made claims identical to Sonmez's — i.e., of sexism, preferential treatment, and discrimination?

What if Trump had urged all his staffers to pledge loyalty to him on Twitter after the allegation was made?

What if Trump's White House had fired the female staffer who complained?

The WaPo would have called it worse than Watergate and demanded a third impeachment.

If challenged, the people at the WaPo will claim that President Trump is a public servant and hence is accountable.

But a newspaper is a public service, and the people, especially subscribers who fund the enterprise, have a right to know what occurs behind closed doors.

To be fair, no organization can run with employees squabbling in public.

But Sonmez was claiming that the retweet was a symptom of a larger problem within the organization.  She also said she had exhausted all alternatives and hence resorted to a public exposition.  She said she wanted to improve working standards at the WaPo.

There was no harm in hearing her perspective in person after her first outburst.  They could have appointed an independent investigator to probe the matter and recommend systemic changes.  Perhaps Sonmez could have been part of this probe.

But nothing of the kind occurred.

The WaPo championed the "believe all women" stance during the "Me Too" movement when there were allegations against Justice Kavanaugh.  However, they were quick to abandon it when allegations against Biden emerged.  This mentality prevails with Sonmez.

Sonmez's sacking is likely to scare employees from even speaking about harassment with their superiors. 

This once again demonstrates the hypocrisy that prevails among the self-appointed custodians of morality, not just at the WaPo, but also among the powerful liberals.

They claimed to be compulsively compassionate, while they demonize their opponents as bigoted, backward, and mean-spirited.  But a look at their behavior proves that they are accusing their opponents of the very malicious acts they are guilty of.

We saw that during the "Me Too" movement.  A liberal Democrat such as Eric Schneiderman, who claimed to be feminist and even participated in women's protest marches, was a vicious predator who exploited, humiliated, and abused women around him.  There were several others who either participated, enabled, or looked the other way as the vilest of abuse of women was taking place.

They did not care because the abuser was powerful and helped them, and they also had no compassion for the victims.  Apex predator Harvey Weinstein was once a star among the Democrats, until he was caught.

But do not expect any remorse, introspection, or desire for improvement on their part.  The sanctimonious often think rules they prescribe for others do not apply to them.

Image: Dion Hinchcliffe via FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0.

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