Oprah Winfrey rushes to Gayle King’s defense.
While speaking to “Today” hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager on Friday, the star of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” spoke out about the controversy surrounding her best friend, who received backlash for an interview clip where she asks Lisa Leslie about the late Kobe Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case.
The chairwoman and CEO of Harpo Productions was close to tears as she revealed King “is not doing well” and is receiving “death threats” over her question.
“She is not doing well. May I say she is not doing well because she has now death threats and has to now travel with security, and she is feeling very much attacked,” the media executive exclaimed.
Winfrey reiterated King’s Thursday Instagram response, where Gayle said the “out of context” clip was released by CBS without her knowledge.
“She is not doing well and feels that she was put in a really terrible position because that interview had already run. And in the context of the interview, everyone seemed fine, including Lisa Leslie, and it was only because somebody at the network put up that clip,” Oprah explained. “And I can see how people would obviously be very upset if you thought that Gayle was just trying to press to get an answer from Lisa Leslie. She obviously — all things pass, she will be okay — but she hasn’t slept in two days.”
Oprah also noted that she had a phone call with Gayle Friday morning and the night before.
“This is very hard, because when you have social media and the force of social media and particularly people who didn’t see either interview making attacks, I think everybody has a right to have their opinion, but to do it with such vitriol and hate and meanness…” Winfrey added.
In her Thursday response, King explained she wanted Leslie, a friend of Kobe’s, to give her opinion on the resurfaced court case, which was dismissed in 2003.
“We talked about that court case because that court case has also come up,” Gayle said on her Instagram page. “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.’”
That day, CBS News also issued a statement defending King against the social media wrath.
“Gayle conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview with Lisa Leslie about the legacy of Kobe Bryant. An excerpt was posted that did not reflect the nature and tone of the full interview,” the spokesperson said. “We are addressing the internal process that led to this and changes have already been made.”