Reporter slammed for Kobe tweet
A journalist says she has been flooded with death threats for resurfacing a 2003 rape allegation against Kobe Bryant shortly after the NBA legend and his teenage daughter were killed in a helicopter crash.
The 41-year-old former LA Lakers star was killed in the accident in Calabasas, California on Sunday. Police said the crash claimed the lives of eight other people, including Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
As shocked tributes poured in from fellow athletes, politicians and celebrities, Felicia Sonmez, national political reporter with The Washington Post, tweeted a link to a three-year-old article on The Daily Beast.
"Kobe Bryant's Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser's Story, and the Half-Confession," she wrote, quoting the article's headline.
This is gross. A woman lost her husband and child today. Kids lost their father and sister. Children all over the world lost their hero. People are grieving. Maybe give it a day before you trample on the memories of the deceased.— Bridget Phetasy (@BridgetPhetasy) January 26, 2020
The story, originally published in April 2016 just before Bryant's final NBA game, revisited his 2003 arrest for the alleged sexual assault of a 19-year-old hotel worker. The case was dropped in 2004 before going to trial and a civil case was settled out of court.
Sonmez's tweet drew widespread criticism. "You're a terrible person," wrote author Mike Cernovich. "What kind of person just decides to post this now," said Daily Wire contributor Harry Khachatrian.
Comedian Bridget Phetasy wrote, "This is gross. A woman lost her husband and child today. Kids lost their father and sister. Children all over the world lost their hero. People are grieving. Maybe give it a day before you trample on the memories of the deceased."
Sonmez later defended her tweet, urging the "10,000 people" who had commented and emailed her with "abuse and death threats" to "please take a moment and read the story". "Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling," she wrote.
"That folks are responding with rage and threats toward me (someone who didn't even write the piece but found it well-reported) speaks volumes about the pressure people come under to stay silent in these cases."
Some on Twitter drew comparison to The Washington Post's coverage of the deaths of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iranian general Qassim Soleimani, who were respectively described by the newspaper as an "austere religious scholar" and a "revered military leader".