Gayle King criticizes ‘totally out of context’ CBS clip of interview on Kobe Bryant rape allegations

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“CBS This Morning” anchor Gayle King lashed out at her own network on Friday, writing she is “mortified,” “embarrassed” and “very angry” over a clip of an interview with former WNBA star Lisa Leslie and a “totally taken out of context” clip regarding the late Kobe Bryant’s 2003 rape charges.

In the interview, King raised the charges against Bryant, but the clip that provoked a backlash against King only showed the part of the interview where she brought up the case.

“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,” King said in an Instagram video to her more than 780,000 followers. 

“I am mortified. I am embarrassed and I am very angry,” the normally reserved King continued. “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.”


Bryant died late last month in a helicopter crash that also killed his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and eight others. His death has set off waves of tributes to the NBA great. Some of his supporters have responded with anger and threats to people who have raised the allegations against Bryant. 

Bryant was accused in the 2003 incident of sexually assaulting a Colorado hotel employee. The charges were later dropped after the employee declined to cooperate with prosecutors. She would eventually settle with Bryant outside of court, and Bryant acknowledged in an apology that the woman did not feel that their encounter was consensual. 

King brought up that case in the longer interview with Leslie.
“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?” King asked Leslie. 

“It’s not complicated for me at all,” Leslie replied. “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.”

“But Lisa, you wouldn’t see it though. As his friend, you wouldn’t see it,” King said.

“And that’s possible,” replied Leslie. “I just don’t believe that.” She added that the media “should be more respectful at this time.”

King said she “started getting calls” regarding the clip about bringing up the Bryant rape charges.
“‘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,'” King wrote. “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,” King explained. “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 adds. 

King said she thought the post on social media took the full range of the interview out of context.

“I felt really good about the interview,” she says. “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.”

“I’ve never done one of these before,” King later says of her Instagram post defending herself. “But this is so important to me that I felt I had to say something. I don’t want to sit up on a set and read a prepared remark. I wanted you to hear exactly where I’m coming from and how I’m feeling, and to let everybody know that no disrespect intended.” 

The Hill has reached out to CBS News for comment. 
The Washington Post briefly suspended a reporter in the days after Bryant’s death after she tweeted an article about the 2003 Bryant rape case. 
The reporter, Felicia Sonmez, said she faced death threats and abuse online that made her fear for her safety after her tweet. 
Under intense pressure from its newsroom, the Post later lifted the suspension and said Sonmez had not violated the news organization’s social media policies.

Tags CBS News Gayle King Kobe Bryant Lisa Leslie

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