Television personality and broadcast journalist Gayle King has recently come under fire due to a question she posed to WNBA star Lisa Leslie during an interview regarding Kobe Bryant. King asked Leslie if Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault allegations made his legacy complicated for her, “as a woman” and “as a WNBA player”, to which Leslie responded, “it’s not complicated for me at all.”
King’s long-time best friend Oprah Winfrey recently spoke out about the impact that the controversy has had on both King and herself. She spoke with Hoda Kotbe and Jenna Bush Hager on the Today Show this morning and said that King is “not doing well” and is fearing for her life.
Winfrey stated, “may I say, she is not doing well because she has now death threats and has to now travel with security and she’s feeling very much attacked.”
Winfrey criticized the overly aggressive reaction to King’s question by saying, “anybody can criticize anything, but the misogynist vitriol and the attacking to the point where it is dangerous to be in the streets alone, because it’s not just the people who are attacking, and the other people who take that message and feel like they can do whatever they want because of it”.
Winfrey defended people’s right to criticism but said that being critical with a spirit of “vitriol, hate, and meanness” would be unacceptable.
.@Oprah emotionally responds to backlash her friend Gayle King received over King’s recent interview about Kobe Bryant with WNBA legend Lisa Leslie: “She is not doing well because she has now death threats.” pic.twitter.com/M8HrCp8vTr
— TODAY with Hoda & Jenna (@HodaAndJenna) February 7, 2020
Winfrey also reaffirmed an argument King had made earlier about the clip being taken out of context. King recently blamed CBS for stirring up part of the controversy by isolating a single provocative question out of a much longer and more neutral interview. Regarding this claim, Winfrey said, “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 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.”
King was absent from CBS This Morning today, due to what a CBS rep called, “a long-standing commitment out of town.” King maintains that CBS is to blame for the Kobe Bryant controversy, and earlier this week stated, “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.” King says that she will be having “a very intense discussion” in light of this situation.