What kind of sensible person would feel compelled to call Kobe Bryant a rapist and trash his legacy in the hours after the devastating helicopter crash that left the NBA legend and his daughter, Gianna, dead? Unsurprisingly, the answer to that question is staff reporters at CNN and the Washington Post, among other media outlets.
Bryant and his daughter were on their way to a travel basketball game. The victims in the crash also included another player and a parent. But that didn’t stop the Washington Post’s Felicia Somnez from sending a controversial tweet reminding the world about Bryant’s “disturbing” rape case. The tweet was deleted, but a screenshot was preserved and published by the Daily Mail.
Sonmez said she received death threats after posting the tweet, and added that she was inundated with more than 10,000 harassing and insulting messages in the wake of her tweet.
We find it difficult to believe that she didn’t anticipate this reaction. And unfortunately for her, this play for sympathy in the aftermath has decidedly backfired.
Of course, Bryant is a ‘rapist’ at the moment of his death, but Fidel Castro was simply “Cuban dictator” – where were the reminders of the atrocities committed by his government?
Hi Felicia. Any comment on why these two didn’t get the same treatment? pic.twitter.com/T9CKxHW9sF
— Forum Non (@ForumNon) January 26, 2020
Unsurprisingly, a Buzzfeed reporter tweeted the exact same thing.
Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession https://t.co/RbzKCrCNP4
— Addy Baird (@addysbaird) January 26, 2020
According to the Mail, Sonmez, a political reporter at WaPo, has been suspended from her position.
In response to Sonmez’s claims that she was merely remembering Bryant’s legacy “in totality,” one twitter user cut right to the heart of why her tweet infuriated thousands of people.
The backlash was just as intense after CNN’s Nathan McDermott tweeted about the “very credible rape allegation” made against Bryant, neglecting to mention that the charges were dropped and the victim admitted she went on to have sex with another man less than a day after the incident with Bryant.
Yes Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but he’s also faced a very credible rape accusation where the woman was choked and submitted to a rape-kit test which found injuries “not consistent with consensual sex.”https://t.co/HsItwC7VaC
— Nathan McDermott (@natemcdermott) January 26, 2020
Think whatever you want about him, but if you think this is immaterial and shouldn’t be talked about in the aftermath of his death, well, I think you’re wrong.
— Nathan McDermott (@natemcdermott) January 26, 2020
Even reporters with obscure sports media organizations managed to incite a massive backlash (and boost their own profile) with their critical Kobe tweets. One reporter with College Hockey News decried the “sick” people on twitter for inundating her with insults after she had the “audacity” to suggest that “sexual assault victims deserve compassion too” in the hours after the crash.
We can have multiple feelings – be heartbroken over a tragic death, send thoughts & prayers to a family and also hold compassion for survivors
— Jashvina Shah (@icehockeystick) January 26, 2020
You people are incredibly sick and have a true talent for truly not interpreting things correctly. You’re way off base here for many reasons and you can also keep your thoughts to yourself because no one asked you https://t.co/BbifKKsXp3
— Jashvina Shah (@icehockeystick) January 27, 2020
Actress Evan Rachel Wood called Bryant a “rapist”.
What has happened is tragic. I am heartbroken for Kobe’s family.
He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist.
And all of these truths can exist simultaneously.
— #EvanRachelWould (@evanrachelwood) January 26, 2020
Your gonna turn #MeToo into a joke. These things need to be taken seriously and your just looking for attention after him and his daughter JUST died. Wow. ERW, Amazing Actress, shes also an narcissistic disappointment.
— Wes Hatton (@weshatton99) January 26, 2020
And there’s the random smattering of radical feminists and #MeToo fanatics.
— MJ (@morganisawizard) January 27, 2020
In before the eulogies begin: Kobe Bryant was a fucking rapist.
— Lauren Hough (@laurenthehough) January 26, 2020
It looks like the account that tweeted this had to delete for harassment, so I’ll just quote it. “My thoughts are with Kobe Bryant’s rape victim who will spend the next week hearing about how beloved and great her rapist was.”
— John Overholt (@john_overholt) January 26, 2020
“Omg what Kobe Bryant rapist ah?”
This is why “separate the art from the artist” sucks. It entails glorifying the art and ensures erasing the crimes of the artists from public memory.
Keep saying it. Never forger it.
Kobe was a legendary sportsman. He was also a rapist.
— Vikas Muralidharan (@vikas_murali) January 27, 2020
As a reminder of how much Bryant meant to millions of fans:
— Jamie Hernandez (@jamiebhernandez) January 26, 2020
Oh, and let’s not forget the New York Times, LA Times and other media organizations highlighting Bryant’s “complicated” legacy. WaPo also caught some flack for describing Bryant as a “controversial” figure in the opening paragraphs of its obituary.
Washington Post treated Soleimani and Al Baghdadi with more respect than they gave Kobe
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) January 26, 2020
You want to show compassion for ‘survivors’ living with trauma? How about showing some compassion for the Bryant family and the millions of people devastated by the deaths of Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter?
So much for the tolerant, compassionate, left…