Gayle King responds to the backlash over an interview clip where she asks Lisa Leslie about the late Kobe Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case.
This week, “CBS This Morning” posted a video where King asks the WNBA legend, “It’s been said that his legacy is complicated because of a sexual assault charge, which was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you as a woman, as a WNBA player?”
The Triplets head coach responded, “It’s not complicated for me at all… I just never have ever seen him being the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That’s just not the person that I know.”
.@WNBA legend @LisaLeslie told @GayleKing that Kobe Bryant's legacy is "not complicated" for her despite his 2003 rape accusation.— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 4, 2020
"I don't think it's something that we should keep hanging over his legacy." https://t.co/qj6MVvOaqX pic.twitter.com/9qtVORobLO
After the clip went viral, the news anchor received backlash from social media users who felt her question was insensitive due to Bryant’s January 26 helicopter crash, which also killed his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
Thursday morning on Instagram, King issued a response, explaining that CBS posted the “out of context” clip without her knowledge.
“I’ve been up reading the comments about the interview I did with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant. And 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 exclaimed. “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.”
Given the interview’s “wide-ranging” nature, Gayle said it was appropriate to discuss the court case in order for Lisa, a friend of Kobe, to shed light on the matter.
“We talked about that court case because that court case has also come up,” she said. “And, I wanted to get Lisa’s take on it as a friend who knew him well, what she thought, where that should stand… It was very powerful when she looked me in the eye, as a member of the media, to say, ‘It’s time for the media to leave it alone and to back off.’”
Though Gayle says she was advised to keep mum on the controversy, she felt compelled to set the record straight.
“So I’ve been advised to say nothing — just let it go. ‘People will drag you, people will troll you, it’ll be over in a couple of days,’” she said. “But that’s not good enough for me, because I really want people to understand what happened here and how I’m feeling about it.”
Overall, King remembers Bryant as a “very nice and very warm” man who she saw at social functions.
“The last thing I would want to do is disparage him at this particular time,” she added.
See her full video (below):