While the world was both mourning and gathering facts about the helicopter accident that caused the death of NBA icon Kobe Bryant, the Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez tweeted a link to Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case.
That tweet directed her followers to read about the case, which implicated the NBA champion in engaging in non-consensual sex with a white, 19-year-old female employee who worked in the hotel where Bryant stayed in Colorado.
While the charges were later dropped, they put a blemish on Bryant, who later reached an undisclosed settlement with his accuser.
Journalism ethics has been a topic of conversation in the last few days. Many outlets reported that Rick Fox, one of Bryant’s former Lakers teammates, was on board the helicopter, a claim that was refuted.
On Wednesday, Daily Blast Host Lindsey Granger called ethics into question. “As a journalist, it’s our job to objectively report the news,” she said.
“I know that would be tough on someone who survived sexual assault. But when I’m looking at the story, she didn’t give the story any context. And she got upset that she was being attacked on Twitter for tweeting a link that basically was condemning Kobe’s character and accusing him of rape,” Granger said.
She continued, according to Madame Noire’s Charise Frazier:
Go to The Washington Post and say, this man is a nuanced character, this man has a detailed, layered history that we need to discuss. But don’t just tweet that out and be the political reporter for The Washington Post and tweet that and leave it there. Because you’re leaving yourself open to the attacks that you’re now receiving. We need to do better, altogether as journalist. And I look at this woman and I say it was your responsibility just to do better and give it more time than two hours after the man passes away to say what you think about him if it’s negative. And don’t hide behind an article.
Granger’s analysis took on a life of its own, with notables like Power 105 The Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne tha God reposting it.
Granger Had Valid Points
Nicknamed Young Oprah by her esteemed colleagues, Granger is a highly respected journalist. In fact, I’ve known her for more than 10 years during her days as a producer at NBC.
In our interview this evening, Granger added more context to her on-air discussion from today.
“I, like everyone else was shocked about the news of Kobe’s death Sunday,” Granger told me by phone this evening.
As I looked for concrete information, I kept finding false reports from reputable news sources. I also noticed that The Washington Post reporter decided to take a moment of tremendous grief to further her agenda at Kobe’s expense. While I understand that the inclination is to be emotional when you have a connection to a story, the obligation as a journalist is to be objective and professional. The need to be first has become more important than the need to be right for many people in the media industry. We have lost empathy and humanity in many ways and we need to remember that our words matter. I felt like it was my responsibility for me to use my platform to make this a teachable moment.