A reporter from the Washington Post has been widely condemned after retweeting a story about rape allegations against Kobe Bryant just hours after his death.
Tributes are pouring in from across the globe for the NBA legend, who was killed in a helicopter crash in southern California aged 41.
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US President Donald Trump, Usain Bolt, Tom Brady, Whoopi Goldberg, Lennox Lewis, Andy Murray and Justin Bieber are among those to pay their respects to the five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star on social media.
However Felicia Sonmez, national political reporter at the Washington Post, has gone the other way.
Sonmez re-posted a link to a story from 2016 about allegations of rape against Bryant in 2003, which were eventually dropped before a susbsequent civil case was settled out of court.
“Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession,” she wrote on Twitter.
Somnez’s post sparked immediate outrage, with users flooding the tweet with comments of condemnation.
“You’re a terrible person,” said author Mike Cernovich.
“What kind of person just decides to post this now,” wrote Daily Wire contributor Harry Khachatrian.
Comedian Bridget Phetasy added: “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.”
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
Washington Post reporter @feliciasonmez deleted her crass tweets about Kobe Bryant. But screen grabs are forever – and I took some before she deleted the tweets.
Bye, Felicia. pic.twitter.com/IvNZHkiBam
— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) January 26, 2020
It takes immense skill and stupidity to find a way to play the victim, in a moment where 9 people lost their lives in a helicopter crash. Again, delete your account.
— Emmanuel Acho (@thEMANacho) January 26, 2020
What a disgusting post from Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez immediately after Kobe Bryant and his daughter’s death. pic.twitter.com/aHFAfb1wio
— Matthew 🇺🇸 (@GreatAgainMatty) January 26, 2020
— Adam Mackey (@admacXXX2) January 26, 2020
Somnez has since deleted the tweet, but not before defended herself and urging the “10,000 people” who commented 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.”
BBC apologises over ‘disgraceful’ Kobe gaffe
Somnez wasn’t the only figure under fire in the aftermath of the tragedy, with the BBC forced to apologise after a horrible error in a video tribute to Bryant.
As the tribute piece reflected on Kobe’s career, it featured highlights of LeBron James instead of Bryant.
Fans were understandably shocked by the mistake.
— Cordelia Lynch (@CordeliaSkyNews) January 26, 2020
I genuinely cannot believe that the actual BBC News at 10 just did this pic.twitter.com/n6csMV9OOG
— Matthew Champion (@matthewchampion) January 26, 2020
it literally says James on the jersey! What an absolute disgrace
— Sarah Manavis (@sarahmanavis) January 26, 2020
Paul Royall, editor of the BBC News Ten, took to Twitter to apologise.
“In tonight’s coverage of the death of Kobe Bryant on #BBCNewsTen we mistakenly used pictures of LeBron James in one section of the report,” he wrote.
“We apologise for this human error which fell below our usual standards on the programme.”
In tonight’s coverage of the death of Kobe Bryant on #BBCNewsTen we mistakenly used pictures of LeBron James in one section of the report. We apologise for this human error which fell below our usual standards on the programme.
— Paul Royall (@paulroyall) January 26, 2020