The Washington Post fires Felicia Sonmez amid a week of power struggles

The Washington Post fired national political reporter Felicia Sonmez, confirmed The Daily Beast, capping a week’s high-profile drama at the paper.

That post and Sonmez both declined to comment.

Sonmez’ exit from the newspaper comes after a week WaPo Power struggles that ignited heated talks about inequality in newsrooms and the use of social media, with several reporters publicly firing at each other.

According to Somnez, a letter of termination was sent via email The New York Times, Reference to “misconduct that includes disobedience, defamation of your colleagues online, and violation of the Post’s standards for collegiality and inclusivity in the workplace.”

“We cannot allow you to continue working as a journalist representing The Washington Post,” the letter said.

The Washington Post Guild declined to discuss Sonmez’s firing in a statement Thursday, but warned workers should only be disciplined for “just cause.”

“The Washington Post Guild’s mission is to ensure equal treatment and protection for all employees and to empower members as they fight to create a just and inclusive workplace in which workers can thrive,” said the guild’s leadership . “The leadership of the unit is committed to ensuring our contract is honored and workers are only disciplined for just cause. We represent and support any member who faces disciplinary action. We do not comment on individual HR issues.”

The seemingly never-ending drama began late last week when political reporter Dave Weigel retweeted a sexist post about bisexual women. He later apologized, but not before Sonmez publicly called him out along with the newspaper’s management, writing, “Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!”

fellow post Reporter Jose A. Del Real publicly accused Sonmez of “repeated and targeted public harassment of a co-worker” on Saturday, prompting several tweets that were worth fighting between the two until Del Real blocked them on Sunday.

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The weekend’s ordeal prompted Editor-in-Chief Sally Buzbee to issue a somewhat vague memo urging staff to play nice. But tensions remained high on Monday WaPo Video technician Breanna Muir allegedly responded to everyone on the memo to cheer on Sonmez and to call another co-worker for calling her “Breanna Taylor” in a tweet. The newspaper has a “toxic work environment,” Muir wrote in her staff-wide note.

On Tuesday, Buzbee sent out another company-wide memo, stating that the newspaper “does not condone attacks from colleagues” and vowing to enforce the newspaper’s policies on social media and workplace harassment. The memo came hours after Sonmez published a 30-tweet thread that claimed editors had a years-long approach of preferential treatment for high-profile reporters and their social media presence.

Sonmez, meanwhile, continued to tweet, highlighting critical posts from Del Real (who hadn’t responded to Sonmez after Saturday) as a mockery von Buzbee’s claim to a “collegiate workplace”.

veteran post Reporter Lisa Rein then stepped in plead publicly with Sonmez: “Please stop.”

The same afternoon, several high-profile Washington Post reporters, incl Josh Dawsey and Ashley ParkerShe tweeted how “proud” they were to work at the newspaper.

That kumbaya moment prompted Sonmez to post a lengthy thread on Thursday note how “The reporters who released dubbed tweets this week downplaying the Post’s workplace woes have some things in common.” They added that they’re “all white” and “they’re among the ‘stars’ who ‘get away with murder’ on social media.”

Sonmez’ fights with the post are not new. She previously sued former editor-in-chief Marty Baron, then-national editor and current editor-in-chief Steven Ginsberg and other top executives after the newspaper temporarily barred her from publishing sexual assault stories after she was revealed to be a survivor. Management’s decision caused her “economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, mental and emotional distress,” Sonmez argued.

A DC judge dismissed the lawsuit in March on the grounds post showed no “discriminatory motive” in the decision. Still, Sonmez has expressed her frustration with her former newspaper online, arguing that it’s not enough to address injustices in newsrooms.

“Post employees have *for years* been asking management to take action to live up to their word when it comes to inclusion, fairness and protecting their employees,” Sonmez said wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “The only thing that seems to really change anything is when the frustrations boil over to the public.”

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