CBS This Morning host Gayle King is facing a sizable backlash this week over some clips of a recent interview she conducted with former WNBA player Lisa Leslie, during which she asked Leslie about her friendship with Kobe Bryant (who died in a helicopter crash in January) and—more specifically—when Bryant was charged with raping a woman in 2003. The charge was dismissed when the accuser declined to testify, but she filed a civil suit against Bryant that was settled out of court in 2005. In the interview, King essentially just asks Leslie how she feels about that and whether it complicates her feelings about him as a friend and as a basketball player herself. Leslie avoided it, saying she never saw him behave like “the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman” and so it doesn’t complicate her feelings about him at all.
King pressed the issue, asking if it’s fair to even talk about now that Bryant has died or if it’s especially fair to talk about since it is a “part of his history.” Leslie went with the first option, saying the media “should be more respectful” and that people like King could’ve talked to him about it while he was alive if they wanted to, adding, “I don’t think it’s something that we should keep hanging over his legacy.” The interview touched on other topics, but CBS has understandably made it a point to promote clips of stuff like that, leading to people online criticizing King and her decision to bring up the subject of Bryant’s rape charge in the first place.
Now, as reported by USA Today, King herself has apparently joined the ranks of people criticizing the interview, even though she’s the one who gave it and chose to ask the questions about Bryant. In a video posted on social media, King explains that she thinks the Kobe Bryant stuff was taken out of context in the clips CBS has shared, making it look like she was going out of her way to ask one of Bryant’s friends to address the rape charge. She seems to agree with Leslie that it’s time to leave it alone, even though she brought it up, suggesting that she just wanted to give Leslie a chance to preemptively shut down anyone else who wanted to talk about it. King also added that she met Bryant on “many” occasions and thought of him as “kind and warm.”