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The Washington Post is facing intense backlash over what critics say is an overreaction to a retweet from reporter Dave Weigel, who had already apologized. On Monday, The Post suspended Weigel for one month, without pay.
Last week, Weigel shared a joke by YouTube host Cam Harless, who said, “Every girl is bi. You just have to figure out if it’s polar or sexual.”
Weigel’s Post colleague, Felicia Sonmez, then shared a screenshot of that retweet and called him out as well as their employer on Friday.
“Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!” Sonmez reacted.
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The Washington Post condemned the retweet, telling Fox News, “Editors have made clear to the staff that the tweet was reprehensible and demanding language or actions like that will not be tolerated.”
Weigel also removed the retweet from his Twitter page and issued an apology.
“I just removed a retweet of an offensive joke. I apologize and did not mean to cause any harm,” Weigel wrote.
Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez called out both her colleague David Weigel and the paper itself over a tweet he shared with a joke about women.
It has since been reported that Sonmez first flagged the offending retweet to Weigel directly via an internal Slack channel, writing, “I’m sorry but what is this?” and telling him it sent “a confusing message about what the Post’s values are.”
Washington Post executive editor Sally Buzbee also sent a memo to staff telling them to “treat each other with respect and kindness” after the incident fueled more combative Twitter exchanges among colleagues.
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While the memo did not reference any reporter by name, Buzbee added, “The Washington Post is committed to an inclusive and respectful environment free of harassment, discrimination or bias of any sort. When issues arise, please raise them with leadership or human resources and we will address them promptly and firmly.”
However, CNN was the first to report that Weigel was placed on a one-month unpaid suspension.
Weigel did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests for comment. An auto-response from Weigel’s work email replied, “I am out of the office and will return on July 5.”
Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel was suspended after he retweeted someone else’s joke that mocked women.
(Eric McCandless via Getty Images)
In a rare show of bipartisanship in the media landscape, both liberals and conservatives blasted the Washington Post for punishing Weigel over largely innocuous actions.
“Taylor Lorenz just got caught repeatedly lying in her article such that WP had to revise it 3 times as an ‘Editor’s Note,’ and it still contains a lie: nothing happened. Dave Weigel immediately apologized for RT’ing a joke and is suspended without pay,” Substack journalist Glenn Greenwald reacted. “The reason this matters is because the people at these media corporations who constantly reveal themselves to be deranged sociopathic freaks and neurotics — as is happening now at the WPost — are the ones demanding the right to declare Truth and Falsity and censor in its name.”
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“Another bad move by the Washington Post,” Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney tweeted.
“Breaking Points” co-host Krystal Ball declared The Post suspending Weigel over a “dumb” joke “completely insane.” BuzzFeed News reporter Rosie Gray similarly called it “absurd.”
“Everyone knows what they’re doing to Weigel is a cruel joke. Everyone. Even the people doing it to him. And that’s the most Kafkaesque aspect of it all,” National Review’s Jeff Blehar tweeted.
The Washington Post faced bipartisan backlash over its suspension of a reporter over a retweet.
(ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)
The Bulwark writer and MSNBC analyst Tim Miller asked, “Putting the debate over the original tweet aside, shouldn’t we be incentivizing a forgiveness culture where people delete tweets & apologize, as @daveweigel did? Doesn’t piling a gratuitous punishment on top just incentivize the next person to double down & go to substack?”
“Just for the record: Dave Weigel didn’t do anything wrong,” conservative radio host Erick Erickson said.
“This is a massive, disproportionate penalty for a retweet! just idiotic,” New Republic columnist Natalie Shure tweeted, adding, “someone getting slapped with a several thousand dollar penalty for retweeting someone else’s dopey joke, even after immediately deleting and apologizing, is a labor issue.”
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“[T]his strikes me as a severe overreaction and, if they’re really going to be docking two paychecks for retweets, they should probably make their social media policy insanely strict,” Grid News reporter Matthew Zeitlin wrote.
“I would say ‘remarkable.’ But really it’s predictable. What a graceless workplace,” The Dispatch senior editor David French wrote.
“This utter f—ing disaster of a workplace,” political commentator Noam Blum also said.
A spokesperson for the Washington Post declined to comment.
Joseph A. Wulfsohn is a media reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to email@example.com and on Twitter: @JosephWulfsohn.