CBS News reporter Gayle King responded Thursday to criticism over her recent interview with Lisa Leslie, and she said she understands the disapproval.
King, a co-host on “CBS This Morning,” posted to her Instagram account a video that lasts nearly four minutes. In the post, she discusses the number of complaints she has received about a clip from an interview she did with Leslie regarding Kobe Bryant’s death.
In the interview, King discussed Bryant’s sexual assault case from from 2003, when a 19-year-old accused the former basketball star of rape in Colorado. In 2004, a judge dismissed the charges after the accuser said she was unwilling to testify. She filed a civil lawsuit against Bryant in 2004, and in 2005 the two parties settled.
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“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,” Gayle said in her Instagram video. “I am mortified. I am embarrassed and I am very angry. 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.”
One of King’s critics was actress Vivica A. Fox, who posted the clip to Instagram with the caption, “Waking up to this interview and was just really pissed off! LIKE YO! I realize folks gotta do they job but this is just disrespectful in my opinion!”
The video of King’s interview with Leslie can be seen below.
King: “It’s been said that his legacy is complicated, because of a sexual assault charge that was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you, as a woman, as a WNBA player?”
Leslie: “It’s not complicated for me at all. … I just never see — have ever seen him being the kind of person that would be — do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That’s just not the person that I know.”
King: “But Lisa, you wouldn’t see it though. As his friend, you wouldn’t see it.”
Many were critical about the fact that King was even asking these questions in the first place. Many sided with Leslie, especially after she told King, “It’s like if you had questions about it, you had many years to ask him that.”
King for the most part acknowledged the complaints and felt the clip showed her out of context.
“I started getting calls. ‘What the hell are you doing? Why did you say this? What is happening?’ I did not know what people were talking about. So I’ve been told, 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.’ 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.
“I reached out to Lisa — because I know she’s a longtime friend of Kobe’s — to talk about his legacy and their friendship. We had a really wide-ranging interview, talked about many things: his career, his passion, his sense of humor, the way he was mentoring other people, how he was starting his next chapter, it was wide-ranging. And yes, we talked about that court case because that court case has also come up. 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.”
“During the course of the interview I asked follow-up questions because I wanted to make sure her position and perspective were very clear and at the end when she said, ‘It’s time to leave it alone,’ as I said I thought that was powerful and I insisted that that part be in the interview because I thought it put a nice button on that part of the conversation.”
King was mostly upset by the network posting the clip without the full story.
“I felt really good about the interview. So, for the network to take the most salacious part when taken out of context, and put it up online for people who didn’t see the whole interview, is very upsetting to me, and that’s something I’m going to have to deal with with them. There will be a very intense discussion about that.”
While CBS posted just the short clip on its social media page, the network did upload the full segment on YouTube.
Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. Payton Chester, 13, Sarah Chester, 45, Alyssa Altobelli, 14, Keri Altobelli, 46, John Altobelli, 56, Christina Mauser, 38 and Ara Zobayan, 50, all died in the helicopter crash, as well.
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