Washington Post reporter criticizes management for keeping her off sexual assault stories

"I've just kept trying to do my job," breaking news report Felicia Sonmez said. "I do not feel supported by my employer."
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The Washington Post
The Washington Post
(Eric Baradat / Getty Images)

A Washington Post reporter is publicly criticizing her employer for keeping her from reporting on sexual assault stories, after she alleging she was a victim of such an attack.

The breaking news reporter, Felicia Sonmez, recently posted 16 tweets in which she criticized the newspaper for not allowing her to cover stories related to sexual assault and accusing the paper of not supporting victims.

"The reason I've repeatedly been given by senior editors is that they are worried about 'the appearance of a conflict of interest' if they allow me to write on sexual assault," Sonmez tweeted.

Sonmez's tweets come after an online harassment campaign by internet trolls toward fellow reporter Seung Min Kim, who received "racist and sexist attacks" on Twitter, according to Yahoo News.

Sonmez's tweets were also in response to Post national editor Steven Ginsberg informing her the newspaper will continue to prohibit her from writing stories on sexual assault, according to Politico.

Ginsberg's deputy Peter Wallsten followed up by telling Sonmez: "I'm really sorry you are unhappy with the parameters of your assignment. ... But it is up to The Post to determine coverage assignments, and I do not anticipate yours changing anytime soon."

Sonmez said she faced no ban from writing such story when she started and has been banned only once – during the Senate confirmation hearings for now-Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh. During the 2018 hearings, Kavanaugh faced sexual assault allegations. 

"I've pleaded to my editors to lift it, to no avail," Sonmez said of the ban. "So I've just kept trying to do my job. I do not feel supported by my employer."

In November 2019, Sonmez wrote her account of an alleged sexual assault by a former colleague at the Los Angeles Times newspaper, according to The Hill. The newspaper opened an investigation, and the colleague eventually resigned. 

Two months later, Sonmez was suspended after tweeting about rape accusations against former NBA star Kobe Bryant after his death in a helicopter crash. She was reinstated after hundreds of Post reporters signed a letter pledging support for Sonmez, The Hill also reported.