Gayle King, who hosts CBS’s This Morning, came under fire on Twitter after a video clip showing her grilling retired WNBA star Lisa Leslie about the rape charge against Kobe Bryant went viral.
The CBS interview covered a wide range of issues about Bryant’s career and personal life. During the interview, the subject of the 2003 rape charge against Bryant came up. The viral video clip showed King pressing Leslie about the incident.
Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old woman in 2003, but the charge was eventually dropped after the accuser chose to settle out of court in a civil lawsuit.
Bryant later issued an apology, saying that although he believed that his sexual encounter with the accuser was consensual, he now recognized that she did not view it the way he did.
“It’s been said that his legacy is complicated because of a sexual assault charge which was dismissed in 2003, 2004,” King asked Leslie. “Is it complicated for you, as a woman, as a WNBA player?”
“It’s not complicated for me at all,” Leslie answered.
There was a backlash against Gayle King on Twitter
Many Twitter users were upset about how Gayle King pressed Leslie about the Bryant rape charge. They said it disrespected Kobe Bryant, coming so soon after the NBA star’s tragic passing.
Many, including the rapper Snoop Dog, took to Twitter to slam her for the interview.
Snoop Dogg had some words for Gayle King following her recent interview 👀 pic.twitter.com/kJKWkOO29g
— HiphopAllAround (@HiphopAllAround) February 6, 2020
Gayle you are a turn off. Just stop! You should apologize to Kobe's wife, family and friends. CBS should put you on suspension. Immediately!
— Lynn Williams (@LynnWil22312600) February 6, 2020
Gayle has since responded to the backlash and criticism (see Instagram video below). She apologized for how she pressed Leslie about the issue.
“I’ve been up reading the comments about the interview I did with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant,” she said. “I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I’d be extremely angry with me too. I am mortified, I am embarrassed and I am very angry.”
She claimed that CBS took that part of the interview out of context and posted it online:
“Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview, totally taken out of context and when you see it that way, it’s very jarring. It’s jarring to me. I didn’t even know anything about it.”
She said that although she was advised not to respond to the backlash, she thought the best course of action was to tell her side of the story. She said she wanted to tell people what happened and how she was feeling about it.
According to King, she reached out to Leslie to talk about Kobe’s legacy because she knew she was a longtime friend of Kobe’s. She explained that she and Leslie had a wide-ranging conversation about his career, personality, and personal life.
They also talked about the court case because she wanted Lisa’s take on it as she was a friend who knew Bryan very well.
King said it was a powerful moment when Leslie looked her in the eyes and said it was time for the media to leave the issue alone. But she pressed her further on it because she wanted to ensure that Leslie was clear about her position and perspective on the incident.
She explained that she has spoken with Leslie after the interview and believed she was OK with it.
She then went on to allege that the clip the network posted online took the “salacious part” of the interview out of context, and this caused people who did not see the rest of the interview to be upset.
King said she had been with Kobe on several occasions and that he was kind and warm to her. She felt they had a friendly relationship, so she was also grieving his death. She added that due to their relationship, the last thing she wanted to do was disparage his legacy.
King concluded, saying she wanted everyone to know that no disrespect was intended.