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Rantz: Ignore bad faith rush to publish details on Kobe Bryant’s tragic death

Kobe Bryant. (Getty Images)

NBA legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash. His daughter, Gianna, was also on board and didn’t survive. That much we knew early on after a report by TMZ, followed by confirmation by the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times.

But the crash left a mystery: Who else was on the helicopter with Bryant?

ABC News reporter Matt Gutman rushed with the exclusive, claiming Bryant’s four children were on board. There were no other outlets making this claim. Gutman shouldn’t have either. But he did. Why?

I suppose it’s possible that only Gutman has this information (though TMZ Sports says Bryant’s reps confirmed just GiGi was on the copter with her father). But this just seems like shoddy reporting. And it seems driven by the need to be first with an exclusive detail, even when that detail, if wrong, could devastate an already grieving family and country.

On Twitter, as of early this Sunday afternoon, Gutman hasn’t followed up with any additional information or clarification.

This feels like a rush to air a claim, not to bring to us much-needed information about the tragedy. It felt like it was was simply to be first. And that’s why so many jumped on his reporting.

But this wasn’t the only questionable decision by a reporter on Kobe Bryant.

Washington Post national political reporter Felicia Sonmez didn’t spend any time to post a Daily Beast article about rape claims against Bryant. I think it’s generally fair to discuss these issues, but timing is key. The world just lost an iconic athlete who meant a lot to fans, particularly in Los Angeles. This Tweet could wait a day.

Here’s some advice: You should reject bad faith reporting and commentary about Kobe Bryant. Focus on the facts, send your prayers to his family, and wait for verifiable information.

UPDATE (01/26/20 at 5:00PM): Sonmez deleted a series of tweets after being criticized. They’ve been screenshot for posterity.

UPDATE (01-27-20 at 8:36AM): Sonmez has been suspended for her tweets, per Mediaite sourcing reporter Matthew Keys . The Washington Post is reviewing whether or not her tweets violated their social media policy.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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