February 24, 2020

Writer vs. Writer: Too Soon to Discuss Kobe Bryant’s Sexual Assault Allegation?

posted on: Thursday February 6, 2020

Media coverage following Bryant’s sudden passing has sparked controversy as to what parts of the basketball legend’s past are appropriate to report. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Walt.

 

NO

by Savannah Plaisted ’21

Opinion Co-Editor

 

The recent death of Kobe Bryant is, of course, tragic and untimely. His face and highlights from his career were plastered across the internet for days afterwards, as people of all walks of life grieved him and the eight people that died along with him.

The problem inherent in this public grieving is the minimal acknowledgement of the darker side of his legacy.

The day after his untimely death, Kevin Draper of the New York Times wrote an exposé on Bryant’s 2003 rape allegation, as a reminder to the public of his actions. 

Some might say this was too soon after his death to be dwelling on such a disturbing part of Bryant’s story, but the bottom line is the rape allegation is a part of his legacy. It is just as important as his outstanding athletic achievements. 

In the days of the #MeToo movement, it is immensely important to ensure public knowledge of all accusations of sexual assault, regardless of how much they may damage a person’s reputation and no matter how glorified they are in the public arena.

Although the charges in his case were eventually dropped, Bryant later apologized to the woman that accused him and stated, “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.”

In no way is this a full confession to the rape allegation, but the very fact that consent was not entirely certain in this case is very problematic for Kobe Bryant’s reputation.

It is essential for the public to grieve the loss of a phenomenal athlete like Bryant, but it is equally essential that Draper published his article as quickly as he did.

If a man of Kobe Bryant’s reputation is going to be glorified in a very public way for days after his death, it is equally privy to acknowledge that he was also a man accused of rape.

 

YES

by Peter Mazzella ’21

Opinion Staff

 

The recent passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant has left the whole world in shock, as social media was flooded with tributes celebrating his life. In the midst of these emotional responses, the New York Times took a different route.

One day after Bryant’s passing, New York Times reporter Kevin Draper published an article regarding a sexual assault allegation made against Bryant in 2003. The article stuck to the facts, but the question that is raised from the issue is when is it “too soon” to post it?

The urgency to make a headline took priority over the family’s mourning. No less than 24 hours after the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, the article was published. While this may have driven massive amounts of traffic to the New York Times website and boosted readership in general, it is still extremely controversial.

A similar case involved a Washington Post reporter who received backlash after a tweet following initial allegations against Bryant. Following Bryant’s death, Felicia Somnez was suspended from the Post after tweeting, “Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half Confession,” with a link to a Daily Beast article about the sexual assault case. The lack of judgement in both instances shows not only the ruthless nature of the news industry, but the willingness to go above and beyond to get published.

The most important thing in a tragedy like this is to give the family enough space to mourn privately.

While there is a fine line between doing one’s job and being considerate of the families involved, there is no reason that the Bryant family should have to hear this kind of news so soon. This style of reporting heavily favors profit over any regard for the family’s privacy. In this instance, it was not appropriate timing to publish given the worldwide impact that came along with it, and in future instances profit should not take priority over another human’s life.

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