Gayle King Continues To Receive Backlash After Questioning Lisa Leslie About Kobe Bryant’s Assault Case

Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty

Gayle King is continuing to receive harsh backlash and even death threats for her interview with former WNBA star Lisa Leslie wherein she questioned Leslie about Kobe Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case.

NBA legend Kobe Bryant died on January 26, in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and seven other souls.

King reached out to Leslie to interview her about Bryant due to Leslie and Bryant’s friendship.

An excerpt of their conversation was released Tuesday morning that highlighted King’s questions about Bryant’s assault case and it launched a flood of hate for the journalist.

Bryant was accused of raping a white 19-year-old woman in Colorado in 2003. The case was dropped after the accuser declined to testify.

In the interview, King asked Leslie if Bryant’s legacy was complicated because of the case. When Leslie responded saying she couldn’t see Bryant violating a woman, King told Leslie that she wouldn’t see it.

King then asked Leslie if it was fair to even discuss the case.

“I think the media should be more respectful at this time,” said Leslie. “If you had questions about it, you had many years to ask him that. I don’t think it’s something that we should keep hanging over his legacy.”

Leslie added on that Bryant went to trial. King then clarified that the case was only dismissed because the victim refused to testify, and Leslie said it should be left at that.

The excerpt quickly went viral and King became a focal point of hate.

Numerous social users and celebrities took to their platforms to accost King for questioning Leslie about the case, especially as a Black woman.

One of the most prominent responses came from Snoop Dogg who verbally chastised King with expletives.

Among Snoop, other prominent responses include NBA legend LeBron James’ tweet.

Bill Cosby, who’s currently incarcerated, also tweeted about King.

While Cosby’s tarnished legacy with regard to his numerous sexual assault charges is incomparable to that of Bryant’s, his tweets have nevertheless been used to further some’s opposition of King.

King took to Instagram Thursday morning to address the controversy.

For her defense, King alleged that network misrepresented the exclusive with the excerpt.

“I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I’d be extremely angry with me too,” explained King. “I am mortified. I am embarrassed. And I am very angry.”

According to Page Six, CBS released the following statement hours after King shared her video: “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. We are addressing the internal process that led to this and changes have already been made.”

Even with with her apology and CBS’ statement, King still continued to received an immense amount of hate for her line of questioning. However, she’s also received some support.

On Thursday, journalist Marc Lamont Hill defend King for the way she’s been critiqued.

He himself than began receiving a ton of backlash and on Friday doubled down on his position.

Hill tweeted this: “Shout out to all the #GirlDads from last week who are now trying to justify calling Gayle King a “funky dog face b****.” I see you.”

He then shared the tweet on Instagram and expounded on his position.

Oprah, King’s best friend, fully defended her Friday morning and revealed that King isn’t doing well and that she’s received death threats.

The best response to the situation thus far has come from Erica Cobb, a co-host on Daily Blast Live.

Cobb explained the historical context of Bryant’s case and the caution, Black women in media in particular, should take when discussing the case.

Cobb said that she doesn’t agree with the backlash that King is receiving, but that King did make a mistake.

Social users are still harshly critiquing King, but as she hinted, it may eventually pass.

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Bryant Lydell

Bryant Lydell is creative, personable and quick-witted Howard and USC alum. He's the founder of The Top Tea, a songwriter, screenwriter and member of the casting team for Netflix's NAACP Image Award-winning hip-hop competition series Rhythm + Flow.

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