WaPo Clears Reporter Responsible For Kobe Tweets, ‘Regrets’ Speaking Publicly About The Situation

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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The Washington Post cleared its suspended reporter who tweeted about NBA star Kobe Bryant’s 2003 rape case shortly after his death, writing in a statement Tuesday that the outlet “regrets” speaking about the matter.

Felicia Sonmez, a national politics reporter for the Washington Post, tweeted out a story from the Daily Beast about Bryant’s rape case shortly after reports of his death Sunday. Sonmez faced massive backlash after her tweet and subsequently posted images of her inbox to show the threats she was receiving.

WaPo then suspended Sonmez as the newsroom reviewed whether her tweets violated its “social media policy.” It was not clear which specific tweet was under review, as Sonmez tweeted multiple times about Bryant. All of those tweets have been deleted.

“After conducting an internal review, we have determined that, while we consider Felicia’s tweets ill-timed, she was not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy,” Tracy Grant, WaPo’s managing editor, said in a statement to the Daily Caller Tuesday. “Reporters on social media represent The Washington Post, and our policy states ‘we must be ever mindful of preserving the reputation of The Washington Post for journalistic excellence, fairness and independence.’”

“We consistently urge restraint, which is particularly important when there are tragic deaths. We regret having spoken publicly about a personnel matter.” (RELATED: BBC Apologizes After Airing LeBron James Footage During Kobe Bryant Tribute)

Bryant, 41, died Sunday when his helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California. His daughter Gianna Bryant, 13, also died in the crash. A total of nine people were killed and the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Bryant was accused by a 19-year-old in 2003 of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room in Colorado. The sexual assault case was dismissed after Bryant issued an apology in court. Bryant said he believed that the encounter was consensual but understood later that the woman did not feel the same way.