CBS News chief condemns ‘reprehensible’ threats made against Gayle King

CBS News President Susan Zirinsky strongly condemned the “reprehensible” threats made against broadcaster Gayle King after an interview she conducted with former WNBA player Lisa Leslie about the late Kobe Bryant’s legacy.

King, a host of “CBS This Morning,” faced an onslaught of attacks last week after the network shared a clip of her questioning Leslie about a 2003 sexual assault allegation made against Bryant. Notably, the rapper Snoop Dogg shared a video telling King to “back off, bitch, before we come get you.”

“We fully support Gayle King and her integrity as a journalist,” Zirinsky said in a statement to The Hill on Sunday. “We find the threats against her or any journalist doing their job reprehensible.”

Zirinksy also defended King’s interview with Leslie as “comprehensive and thoughtful,” adding that the U.S. is “a country where differences of opinion are welcome – but hateful and dangerous threats are completely unacceptable.”

Bryant, 41, died last month after a helicopter he was traveling in crashed on a hillside near Los Angeles. Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others died.

In the aftermath of Bryant’s death, King held a wide-ranging interview with Leslie, a former WNBA star and friend of Bryant’s, about his life on and off the basketball court. The discussion at one point focused on a felony sexual assault charge Bryant faced in 2003. The charges were later dropped after the accuser refused to testify. The woman would eventually settle with Bryant outside of court, and in an apology, Bryant acknowledged that the woman did not consider their encounter to be consensual.

The intense outrage aimed at King came after CBS shared a condensed clip on Twitter of the host’s conversation with Leslie about the case. Snoop Dogg and rapper 50 Cent were among the many figures to decry King for bringing up the case, arguing that it was disrespectful to his family.

Snoop Dogg claimed that King was attacking “your people.” His threat to “come get you” prompted a blistering response from former national security adviser Susan Rice, who told the rapper to “back the **** off.” 

“You come for @GayleKing, you come against an army. You will lose, and it won’t be pretty,” Rice tweeted, adding that King is “one of the most principled, fair and tough journalists alive.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) also defended King, saying the threats and misogyny being directed toward her were “unacceptable.”

Snoop Dogg posted a new video Saturday saying he is a “nonviolent person” and wants “no harm to come to her.” He stood by his criticism, though, saying King was “out of pocket” and “we watching you.”

King has criticized CBS for sharing the “most salacious part” of an interview in a way that stripped it of context. In a video shared on Instagram, she said the she would have been “extremely angry with me too” had she seen the clip. She noted that the interview touched on many things and that she brought up the rape allegation because “I wanted to get Lisa’s take on it as a friend who knew him well.” 

CBS has changed its protocols for approving and editing videos in response to the incident, The Washington Post reported. The network has not commented on what new protocols are being put in place. 

Oprah Winfrey, a friend of King’s, said on NBC’s “Today” that the broadcaster has received death threats because of the interview and that she now must travel with security. 

Tags Cory Booker Gayle King Oprah Winfrey
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