The Washington Post has suspended political reporter David Weigel without pay for sharing a sexist tweet, CNN reported on Monday.
According to a source close to the matter, disciplinary action was taken after Felicia Sonmez, another political reporter at the Post, publicly admonished him for retweeting a joke by YouTuber Cam Harless that read “Every girl is bi. You just have to figure out if it’s polar or sexual.”
Shortly after, Sonmez tweeted “Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!” In company Slack messages obtained by CNN, Sonmez tagged Weigel and asked “I’m sorry but what is this?,” adding that the retweet sent “a confusing message about what the Post’s values are.”
Although the Post has yet to confirm Weigel’s suspension, the Post’s chief spokesperson stated that “Editors have made clear to the staff that the tweet was reprehensible and demeaning language or actions like that will not be tolerated.”
A few days later, Weigel removed the tweet and issued a public apology, stating that he “did not mean to cause any harm.”
But subsequent exchanges between Post staffers, fellow journalists and onlookers – with Sonmez sharing several examples of insults and threatening messages she received on Twitter – seemingly pressured leadership to take further action.
Sonmez, who recently sued the Post for preventing her from covering sexual assault stories after she came out as a survivor (the case was dismissed), won public support from colleagues after another Post reporter, Jose A. Del Real, accused her of bullying.
“As Felicia’s colleague, I’m glad she calls out misogyny instead of catering to men’s fragile feelings and lack of empathy,” Nina Zafar, a social media editor at the Post, replied.
After news broke about Weigel’s suspension, many other prominent journalists weighed in on the dispute.
“I’m sad that all of us who subscribe to the Washington Post for their journalism won’t get to read @daveweigel’s coverage of the primaries taking place this month because the paper has put optics and politics before ethics and fairness,” wrote Olivia Nuzzi, Washington reporter for New York Magazine. “It’s a disservice to readers.”
Writer and MSNBC analyst Tim Miller used the incident to offer a broader commentary on cancel culture.
“Putting the debate over the original tweet aside, shouldn’t we be incentivizing a forgiveness culture where people delete tweets & apologize, as @daveweigel did?” he tweeted. “Doesn’t piling a gratuitous punishment on top just incentivize the next person to double down & go to substack?”
A spokesperson for the Washington Post declined to comment. An automatic out-of-office reply from Weigel stated that he will return to his office on July 5.