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Felicia Sonmez and the Truth About Objectivity

Washington Post Editor Marty Baron with reporters Kimberly Kindy, Wesley Lowery and Jody Warrick, celebrating winning Pulitzer Prizes at The Washington Post
Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
August 5, 2021

Two weeks ago, Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez filed a lawsuit against her employer, alleging discrimination against her based on her gender and being a survivor of sexual assault. If you’re not familiar with the case, here’s a quick summary: In 2018, as the #MeToo movement was sweeping America, Sonmez was the second woman to allege that Jonathan Kaiman, the Los Angeles Times bureau chief in Beijing, had engaged in sexual misconduct. (Kaiman denied the allegations, and said of both accusations, “all acts we engaged in were mutually consensual.” He resigned amid the L.A. Times’ investigation.) The Post later determined that her outspokenness on the issue and her personal experience presented a conflict of interest that should prevent her from reporting on stories that pertained to sexual misconduct, like the controversy surrounding the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.