Miya Ponsetto Tells Gayle King She "Wants a Real Interview With Real Questions"

Elena Nicolaou
·8 min read

From Oprah Magazine

  • Gayle King interviewed Miya Ponsetto, the 22-year-old woman who was nicknamed "SoHo Karen" after falsely accusing a Black teenager of stealing her phone at a New York City hotel.

  • Ponsetto was arrested in California on January 8, the same day the first segment of her CBS This Morning interview aired. The complete interview dropped on January 11.

  • During the tense conversation, Ponsetto wore a hat emblazoned with the word "daddy" while defending her actions before cutting Gayle off with a hand up and the word "enough."

First came "Central Park" Karen. Then "Permit Karen" of Montclair, NJ. This year has been marked by a series of videos that went viral for what they reveal about racism's insidious place in American culture. For a segment on CBS This Morning, Gayle King sat down with the aggressor of one of the latest of such videos: 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto, who has since become known as "SoHo Karen."

On December 26, 2020, Ponsetto falsely accused Keyon Harrold Jr., a 14-year-old Black teenager, of stealing her phone in the lobby of Manhattan's Arlo Hotel, CBS News reported. Harrold Jr.'s father, prominent jazz musician Keyon Harrold Sr., recorded the interaction as evidence of Ponsetto's alleged racial profiling. A hotel surveillance video later released by the NYPD showed Ponsetto physically attacking Harrold Jr. Ultimately, Harrold Jr. never had Ponsetto's phone, and it was recovered at the hotel.

During the exclusive interview, Gayle gave Ponsetto a chance to explain her controversial actions, which ultimately led to her arrest. After the NYPD issued a warrant for her arrest, Ponsetto was apprehended near her California home on January 8, 2020, the day after the interview took place. She will be extradited to New York to face charges, per the New York Times.

Gayle began their virtual sit-down by asking Ponsetto to "help her understand" why she thought Harrold Jr., specifically, had taken her phone. "That's why I'm confused. Why did you think he had it?" Gayle said.

"I had been approaching people who had been exiting the hotel because in my mind, anyone exiting might be the one to have stolen my phone," Ponsetto explained before admitting that she did not approach everyone who was exiting the hotel.

Harrold Sr. had given his perspective on the events in a previous interview with NewsNation. “My son and I were at the Arlo Hotel, we were in our room. We decided to go downstairs to grab some brunch the day after Christmas. As soon as we got into the lobby, we were basically berated literally like criminals who had literally stole something,” Harrold Sr. told

While not acknowledging the racial dynamics present in the altercation, Ponsetto expressed to Gayle some regret at how she handled the situation. "I admit, yes, I could have approached the situation differently or maybe not yelled at him like that. And made him feel sort of...inferior. Making him feel as if I was hurting his feelings. That was not my intention," Ponsetto said, going on to describe herself as "super sweet."

Still, when pressed about her reaction, Ponsetto failed to grasp why her actions were considered racist. "I apologized. Can we move on?" Ponsetto said. "I'm a 22-year-old girl. How is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime?"

To that, Gayle said no, they could not move on. Instead, she asked Ponsetto to address the "context" of her accusation, especially in a year in which the U.S. has been embroiled in painful conversations regarding the potential dangers of being Black in America—especially when another person wields their privilege.

"You have to at least understand your actions that day," Gayle said. "You seem to have attacked this teenager about the phone. And then it turned out he didn't even have your phone. That's the thing. You're 22-years-old, but you're old enough to know better."

In what Gayle later called her "favorite part" of the interview, Ponsetto responded by lowering her hand to the screen and telling Gayle, "Enough." Ponsetto's attorney, Sharen H. Ghaten, appeared to be visibly shocked when her client interrupted Gayle, and muttered, "Stop. Stop."

Following that brief clip—which went viral—the entirety of Ponsetto's interview dropped on Monday, January 11. Ponsetto said that it didn't seem as if her accusations "really bothered" Harrold Jr. and Harrold Sr., because they "enjoyed a nice meal" after the encounter. Harrold Sr.'s Instagram post refutes Ponsetto's claim. His caption accompanying a video of the altercation opened with, "I am furious!"

Ponsetto also claimed that, as a woman of color herself, she was unable to behave in a racist manner. Instead, she was panicked about her lost phone. "I wasn't racial profiling whatsoever. I'm Puerto Rican. I'm a woman of color," Ponsetto said. Gayle replied, "People of color can be racist, too."

Toward the end of the interview, Gayle shared her take on Ponsetto's outlook. "You seem to be not remorseful. To have no contrition. You're almost a little flippant about this. You have to understand—for this teenage boy, who said that he was shattered, who was traumatized..." Gayle trailed off, before Ponsetto interrupted her to say that she, too, was traumatized.

Ponsetto concluded the interview with some career advice for Gayle. "I would like to have a real interview with real questions and real heart and real sincere apologies," Ponsetto said. Gayle then gave Ponsetto the floor, who apologized one last time.

Gayle's composure during the interview has garnered praise online, with people calling it a "pleasure to watch" and an "American masterpiece."

Commenters also pointed out how Ponsetto's disrespectful posture in the interview seemed to highlight her actions in the viral video, and were an example of "racism in action."

Others took note of Ponsetto's hat, emblazoned with the word "Daddy." The hat is a piece of Call Her Daddy merch, created by a popular Barstool Sports podcast that discusses sex and dating. Gayle mentioned Ponsetto's lawyer recommended she not wear the hat, but "she refused to do that, too."

According to Gayle, Ghatan and Ponsetto had prepared for the interview, but the 22-year-old went off script. "I really felt for the attorney," she said. "It's hard when you have a client who doesn't pay attention to what you're saying."

Hours after the first segment of the interview aired, parody videos began to proliferate on the internet, expanding on some of the memorable soundbites.

Reflecting on the footage with her co-anchors, Gayle called the conversation an "interesting afternoon," and said it probably wasn't "helping" Ponsetto's case—which has only just begun. "There's something sad about her, and the trauma that she put a 14-year-old through is not okay," Gayle said. "I'm not sure she understands the gravity of the situation."

Gayle also spoke with Harrold Jr.'s parents, Keyon Harrold Sr. and singer Kat Rodriguez, in a segment that aired on January 11. "I'm happy that she's been arrested but that's only the first step in a very big conversation that happens in America that has to do with racial profiling," Harrold Sr., whose video of the altercation is what prompted the entire story, said.

Rodriguez, Harrold Jr.'s mother, spoke out for the first time. Visibly emotional, Rodriguez took issue with Ponsetto's apology—especially her interruption of Gayle. "Does that sound like an apology? She assaulted a 14-year-old boy," she said.

For Harrold Jr.'s parents, who say their son is traumatized, Ponsetto's apology rings hollow. "People can say I'm sorry and it's empty. Justice has to do with change," Harrold Sr. said.

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