Posting a video on IGTV before she appeared on “CBS This Morning,” the anchor addressed the criticism she had faced over a clip the network aired of her interview with basketball star Lisa Leslie about her close friend, the late Kobe Bryant. He died in a helicopter crash last month in Calabasas, Calif., alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.
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“I’ve been up reading the comments about the interview I did with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant and 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,” she explained.
“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?’”
The clip focused on King asking Leslie about Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault allegations, which were later settled out of court. “It’s been said that his legacy is complicated, because of a sexual assault charge, which was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you, as a woman, as a WNBA player?” she is shown asking.
Leslie answered: “It’s not complicated for me at all. Even if there’s a few times that we’ve been at a club at the same time, Kobe’s not the kind of guy, never been like, ‘Lis, go get that girl’…I have other NBA friends that are like that. Kobe, he was never like that. I just never see — have ever seen him being that kind of person that would…do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That’s just not the person that I know.”
King then said, “But Lisa, you wouldn’t see it though. As his friend, you wouldn’t see it.”
The clip resulted in a barrage of social media posts accusing King of being disrespectful. Among them was rapper 50 Cent, tweeting: “What is this, wait somebody gotta help me understand why they keep doing this. I apologize for my language in advance let’s talk about this.”
But King argued in her video that it was a wide-ranging interview and the clip was taken out of context.
“I reached out to Lisa because I know that she’s a longtime friend of Kobe’s to talk about his legacy and friendship. We had a really wide-ranging interview, talked about many things — his career, his passion, his sense of humor, the way he was mentoring other people, how he was starting his next chapter.…And yes we talked about that court case because that court case has also come up. And I wanted to get Lisa’s take on it as a friend who knew him well,” she said.
“During the course of the interview I asked follow-up questions because I wanted to make sure that her position and perspective were very clear and at the end when she said it was time to leave it alone I thought that was powerful. And I insisted that part be of the interview because I thought that it put a nice button on that part of the conversation.”
King added that she “felt really good about the interview” so for the network to “take the most salacious part when taken out of context and put it up online for people who didn’t see the whole interview is very upsetting for me and that’s something I’m going to have to deal with with them and there will be a very intense discussion about that.”
King, who is one of the network’s biggest news stars and reportedly had her salary doubled to $11 million last year, also revealed that she had been advised not to say anything on the matter and that the trolling will be over in a couple of days. But that wasn’t good enough for her because she really wants “people to understand what happened here and how I’m feeling about it.”
She added that this was her first Instagram video. “I don’t want to sit upon a set and read a prepared remark. I want you to hear exactly where I’m coming from and how I’m feeling and to let everybody know that no disrespect [was] intended and now I’ve got to go to work.”
A rep for CBS News said: “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.”
CBS is not the only media outlet to be in the spotlight after Bryant’s death.
The Washington Post last week reinstated national political reporter Felicia Sonmez after putting her on paid leave earlier in the week for tweeting a link to a report detailing Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault charges in the hours following the crash.
Its decision to put her back in the newsroom followed a union letter signed by hundreds of her coworkers complaining about her treatment. The letter argued that Sonmez received an onslaught of violent messages, including threats that contained her home address, in the wake of the tweet and “instead of protecting and supporting a reporter in the face of abuse, The Post placed her on administrative leave while newsroom leaders review whether she violated the social media policy.”
In a statement, Tracy Grant, managing editor of The Post, said that after conducting an internal review, executives determined that, “while we consider Felicia’s tweets ill-timed, she was not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy.”
At the same time, ABC News confirmed it had suspended chief national correspondent Matt Gutman for incorrectly reporting that all four of Bryant’s daughters were on the the helicopter.
Gossip and celebrity news site TMZ, meanwhile, has been accused of reporting the story before checking if the families of all the victims had been alerted.
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