Amy Schumer defends Gayle King against backlash over Kobe Bryant interview question: 'Disgustingly unfair and unacceptable'

Amy Schumer defended "CBS This Morning" host Gayle King for asking about Kobe Bryant's sexual assault allegations in an interview. (Photo:  Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)
Amy Schumer defended "CBS This Morning" host Gayle King for asking about Kobe Bryant's sexual assault allegations in an interview. (Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Amy Schumer and other public figures are defending Gayle King after the CBS This Morning host received harassment and death threats for asking about Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case during an interview with WNBA star Lisa Leslie.

“I stand fiercely with @gayleking one of the most beloved journalists, mothers and friends of our time,” Schumer wrote on Instagram Saturday. “However you feel about her interview, her receiving serious death threats is disgustingly unfair and unacceptable. Shame on you CBS for putting her in this position. #standwithgayle.” Schumer’s post was liked by model Ashley Graham.

On Tuesday, King interviewed Leslie, a friend of Bryant who died in a January helicopter crash in California, with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven more people. During their conversation, King brought up Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case, brought forth by a 19-year-old hotel employee, the charges of which were later dismissed.

In her CBS This Morning interview, Leslie said she hadn’t seen Bryant "do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That's just not the person that I know."

King responded, "But Lisa you wouldn't see it, though. As his friend, you wouldn't see it."

Leslie said, "And that's possible. I just don't believe that...” When King raised the question of whether the issue was fair to ask, Leslie responded, "I think that the media should be more respectful at this time. It's like, if you had questions about it, you've had many years to ask him that. I don't think it's something that we should keep hanging over his legacy. I mean, he went to — it went to trial."

Social media was not kind to King, with actress Vivica A. Fox and rappers 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg contributing. This week, Snoop Dogg released a NSFW-rant about the talk show host, writing in his video caption, “P. S. A. Let the family mourn in peace” with the hashtag #gayleking. NBA star Isaiah Thomas, former NFL star Reggie Bush and model Naomi Campbell shared their support on the rapper’s post.

King released a Twitter video to explain the CBS This Morning clip. She said, “I’ve been up reading the comments about the interview I did with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant. 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. 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. I started getting calls: What the hell are you doing? Why did you say this? What is happening? I did not know what people were talking about.”

She also complained that her network took “the most salacious part, when taken out of context” and she praised Kobe as someone who was “very kind and very warm to me.”

“I too am mourning his loss just like everybody else....” said King. “The last thing I would want to do is disparage him at this particular time and I hope people understand that...”

CBS said in a Thursday statement, “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.”

On Friday, King’s best friend Oprah Winfrey appeared on Today to share how King was coping. “She is not doing well,” said Winfrey. “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. You know, Bill Cosby is tweeting from jail, and she’s not doing well and feels that she was put in a really terrible position because that interview had already ran. And in the context of the interview, everyone seemed fine, including Lisa Leslie.” Winfrey also said the vitriolic social media call-outs were “hate and meanness.”

Related Video: Oprah Winfrey Breaks Down in Tears Over Gayle King Backlash

Others are rising to defend King — former presidential candidate Cory Booker tweeted on Friday, “Gayle, you are grace, honor, decency and professionalism embodied. You are one of the best there is at what you do.”

Susan Rice, former national security adviser for President Barack Obama shared Snoop Dogg’s video, tweeting, “This is despicable. Gayle King is one of the most principled, fair and tough journalists alive. Snoop, back the **** off. You come for @GayleKing, you come against an army. You will lose, and it won’t be pretty.”

And on Saturday, Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski tweeted, “I am just catching up on this and I am at a complete loss as to how this spun out in such an ugly way. @SnoopDogg you need to pull back and apologize immediately. @GayleKing we stand with you. I am so sorry this has happened.”

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