- Jacqueline Simon
Journalist Gayle King on defense over Kobe Bryant interview
CBS Journalist Gayle King recently set the internet on fire, and not in a good way, when promo clips of an interview that she conducted with former WNBA Star Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant were released. Lisa Leslie and Kobe Bryant were long-time close friends. In the clips Gayle King questioned Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant’s 2002 rape case and if Leslie believed that Bryant’s legacy would be complicated because of it. Leslie replied that she did not believe that it would. Leslie further stated that Bryant was never convicted of anything and that the case was thrown out and that the media should respect that. The victim refused to proceed forward with the case and later reached a settlement with Bryant. Bryant maintained that while he was guilty of committing adultery, he was not guilty of rape. Leslie said that she had never seen Bryant behave inappropriately. King replied that’s a behavior that Leslie probably would not see. After that line of questioning King continued to press forward with more of the same questions but phrased differently. Leslie calmly replied that King had 18 years to ask Bryant those questions. She questioned why King would wait until his death to revisit the case. Leslie stated that the case was resolved through the judicial system and that was the end of it and. She cautioned that more respect should be given to Bryant’s family by the media as his child was killed too.
Following the release of the excerpts of the interview by CBS there was immediate anger on social media towards Gayle King and Oprah Winfrey. The anger was felt from around the world on social media sites Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. High profile celebrities began to issue statements against Gayle King accusing her of disrespecting Kobe’s wife and family as well as his legacy. King was accused of having a history targeting successful black men in cases involving rape and/or sexual harassment by conducting interviews with them aimed at portraying them as guilty. King was also accused of failing to go after rich, successful, white men in Hollywood accused of the same allegations. Photos began to float around social media of Gayle King, Oprah Winfrey, and Harvey Weinstein in what appeared to show a long-standing friendship. Many questioned why she never interviewed him or other wealthy white men. People were just as angry with Oprah Winfrey.
Things got even more heated when rapper Snoop Dogg recorded a video expressing his anger with Gayle King and her interview with Lisa Leslie. Snoop Dogg and Kobe Bryant were long-time friends as well and Snoop Dogg appeared to be devastated over Bryant and his daughter’s deaths. Snoop Dogg stated that he felt disgusted listening to King continue to press Leslie about Bryant’s prior assault case and. He stated that it was disrespectful to discuss the matter during a sensitive time and before the Bryants were laid to rest. Snoop Dogg called King some very disparaging names and advised her that if she did not stop her behavior that people would get her. Snoop Dogg’s video went viral and many black celebrities and the public came out in support of Snoop Dogg.
Gayle King released a video the following day blaming CBS for releasing that part of the interview. King stated that if she were the public and saw the excerpt that she’d be angry too. She stated that her intent was not to disparage Kobe Bryant’s legacy in any way. She further stated that she would have a meeting with CBS because she was not happy with them. King never addressed Snoop Dogg’s video or apologized to Kobe Bryant’s family or Lisa Leslie.
CBS did issue a public apology.
Oprah Winfrey then gave a tearful interview stating that Gayle King was not ok, and that King was receiving death threats. Winfrey stated that King now must travel with security. King was visibly absent from her morning talk show on CBS after the incident. Many celebrities and people on social media weren’t buying into Oprah’s ½ second tear moment, they were sympathetic to Bryant’s family and the tears they were shedding. They also weren’t buying into King’s excuse that it was the network’s fault for airing the clips. Many stated that had she never asked the questions; the network wouldn’t have clips to air. The drama increased when Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s former national security advisor, tweeted that if Snoop Dogg didn’t back the (expletive) up off Gayle King that an army was coming for him and that he would not win. The public was not moved by the tweet; however, Snoop Dogg did issue an apology to King and King accepted it. Gayle King never apologized and is still considered cancelled by the black community, Oprah too. Time will tell if the public backlash will ultimately affect Gayle King’s career and Oprah’s relationship with Black Hollywood and the black community.
Photo credit: Fred Kearney