As we’ve previously reported, there’s been no shortage of high drama at the Washington Post ever since one of their reporters, Felicia Sonmez, became fauxfended over what she believed was a “sexist” retweet from colleague Dave Weigel and called him out publicly on the Twitter machine instead of trying to work out the “issue” privately.
For those who missed the “offending” retweet, Sonmez – who lost a discrimination lawsuit against the WaPo back in March – shared it Friday:
Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed! pic.twitter.com/zs4dX4qprH
— Felicia Sonmez (@feliciasonmez) June 3, 2022
A short time later and after Sonmez’s sistahs in solidarity also proceeded to kick up some dust, Weigel deleted his RT and issued an apology, and the WaPo itself released a sternly worded statement noting that they found the tweet “reprehensible,” saying that such “demeaning” language coming from their staff would “not be tolerated.”
It was, of course, not enough to appease the braying outage mob, who continued to harangue Weigel and the WaPo higher-ups, which resulted in the decision the paper made to suspend Weigel for a month without pay.
As we also noted, somewhere along the way, Sonmez moved on to her next target: Jose A. Del Real, a colleague at the paper who made the “mistake” of not only disagreeing with her and telling her in so many words that her public tantrum was not a good look, but then compounded it when he responded to her going ballistic in a Twitter thread where she lambasted him for having the nerve to take issue with her unprofessional approach (she’s written multiple Twitter threads in response because apparently there’s not much going on in national politics that she needs to cover).
In an update to this story, things have gotten even weirder in the Washington Post newsroom, as evidenced by the number of “reporters” who are dutifully tweeting out how they love working at the WaPo, warts and all:
They're still doing this. More and more: all saying exactly the same thing with the exact same words, publicly professing their love for the Washington Post in identical language. This is not healthy behavior. Why are they doing this? pic.twitter.com/f2iG5JoFL4
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 7, 2022
While it’s unclear whether those tweets were urged from the top levels at the paper, all the messages sounding alike and all responding to the same tweet regarding a new memo issued Tuesday afternoon from executive editor Sally Buzbee demanding public attacks against each other cease sure make it look at the very least like a coordinated PR effort:
New: @SallyBuzbee sends stern memo to WaPo staff, reiterating newsroom's values against "racist or sexist behavior" and saying that "we do not tolerate colleagues attacking colleagues either face to face or online." pic.twitter.com/E2bpiFCCyS
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 7, 2022
It’d be nice if those responses were genuine because Sonmez’s obnoxious reaction was way over the top and even unhinged at times, but I suspect many of them were posted just to make the bosses (who have also been busy trying to put out other fires) happy.
As I said before, a dumb joke on Twitter about women is not the end of the world, nor is it a sign of the supposedly sinister motivations of those who liked it. And for the record, I’m not really defending Weigel here so much as I am pushing back on the idea that a harmless joke and anyone who thought it was funny must be put on full blast and canceled, with their professional creds (whatever they may be) ground into dust.
Just to be clear, there are indeed certain situations in the workplace where women throwing the yellow penalty flag onto the field – and in some cases in a very public way – is absolutely warranted. This simply wasn’t one of them, in my opinion.