The Washington Post has turned into a Jerry Springer series and it is really fun to watch. Reporters inside the paper are tearing themselves apart.
The civil war that has emerged is also a lesson that you should never give your co-workers permission to be a “friend” on social media.
It all started when political reporter David Weigel reposted on social media a slightly obscene joke.
“Every girl is bi. You just have to figure out if it’s polar or sexual,” wrote YouTuber Cam Harless in a post that Weigel “retweeted.”
Weigel’s colleague Felicia Sonmez took a screenshot of the post and publically attacked Weigel.
A few hours later, Weigel removed the post and apologized.
“I just removed a retweet of an offensive joke,” Weigel tweeted later on that day. “I apologize and did not mean to cause any harm.”
But the controversy wasn’t over.
It was later learned that Sonmez only publically attacked Weigel because she wasn’t happy with the response from management after she complained through internal channels.
Then reporter Jose Del Real came to the defense of Weigel begging Sonmez to move on.
“Felicia, we all mess up from time to time,” Del Real wrote. “Engaging in repeated and targeted public harassment of a colleague is neither a good look nor is it particularly effective. It turns the language of inclusivity into clout chasing and bullying. I don’t think this is appropriate…There is such a thing as challenging with compassion.”
However, that only threw gasoline on the fire and Sonmez shot back.
“When women stand up for themselves, some people respond with even more vitriol. Last night, a Post colleague publicly attacked me for calling out another colleague’s sexist tweet. He first hid any replies objecting to his attacks, and now seems to have deleted his account,” she wrote in response.
Del Real attempted to debate Sonmez, arguing that he supported her efforts to fight “sexism and misogyny,” but encouraging her to “reconsider the cruelty you regularly unleash against colleagues.”
“I reject your attempt to make a specific critique of your regular public bullying into a sweeping opera about principles,” Del Real added, reiterating that Weigel’s retweet was offensive, and had been “strongly condemned internally,” so therefore he was “confused about [her] implication otherwise.” He also mentioned that he was a “gay Mexican American” and didn’t need her to educate him “on being from a marginalized group.”
Sonmez continued torrentially tweeting throughout the day Sunday about the dispute, retweeting dozens of comments from other Twitter users supporting her.
At 11:30 am ET Sunday morning, Buzbee sent an email to the newsroom staff with the subject line “respect and kindness” attempting to address the ongoing and increasingly public infighting.
Weigel ended up getting suspended for a month without pay and Executive Editor Sally Buzbee released an internal memo demanding that the reporters knock it off.
In the wake of the recent social media dustups involving WaPo journalists, Executive Editor Sally Buzbee sends a memo to journalists admonishing them to treat each other with respect and kindness: pic.twitter.com/nRd5h0kLLD