Gayle King is opening up about the public backlash she faced for asking questions regarding the 2003 sexual assault allegation against Kobe Bryant so suddenly after his untimely and shocking passing.
According to People, on Saturday (Mar 7) Oprah and Gayle sat down in front of a sold out audience in Denver for the last stop of Oprah Winfrey’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour, discussing a wide-range of topics including everything from their decades-long friendship to parenting, relationships, careers and the recent controversy, which Gayle called a “very painful” situation.
“I have moved on,” King told Winfrey. “Is there a scab? Yeah. But I have moved on. I put on my game face and my big girl pants, because I never lost sight of who I was, what I believe I am, and my intention. I’ve never lost sight of that. But it certainly was a learning curve, and it was very painful.”
The backlash Gayle received, which included death threats, happened after she asked WNBA star Lisa Leslie, if she thought Kobe’s past sexual assault case would affect his legacy during an interview on CBS This Morning. CBS promoted the interview with the clip of King asking Leslie about Bryant’s rape case, which King slammed as “out of context” of her wide-ranging interview.
“As a journalist, it is sometimes challenging to balance doing my job with the emotions and feelings during difficult times,” she said in a statement to the Associated Press. “I don’t always get it perfect but I’m constantly striving to do it with compassion and integrity.”
After the clip hit the web, Snoop Dogg, who was still mourning Bryant’s death, took to social media and posted a profanity-laced video directed at King for what he said was her insensitivity to Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, and their daughters. Snoop’s comments also received backlash and were taken as a threat against King. The “Beautiful” rapper later apologized and went on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk to further express his mentality when the video was made.
“It was just a matter of me losing control. We still ain’t even swallowed Nip,” Snoop said during the interview. “Then Kobe and his daughter? I lost a grandson, a grandmother so it was a lot of loss in a little amount of time and I was frustrated on top of just venting and doing it the wrong way.”
During her conversation with King over the weekend, Winfrey pointed out that the “good people” who remained silent throughout the backlash also contributed to the pain of the experience.
“In every circumstance, I think this is something for us to remember,” Winfrey said. “It’s not the people who are being mean, it’s not the badness, it’s not the vitriol that’s being put into the world, but it’s the good people who remain silent that becomes so hurtful.”
“I think we can disagree politically, we can disagree socially, if you want to, but I just think humanity should prevail always,” King added. “I think we still have to figure out a way to navigate that with each other. That we can disagree, and you can be mad at me even, but you can’t speak to me the way I was spoken to and threatened.”
Winfrey, who spoke out in support of her friend throughout the backlash, applauded King for never letting the opinions lead her to doubt herself.
“I love that you said through it all you never questioned who you were,” Winfrey said.
“No, I absolutely didn’t, Oprah,” King replied.
Oprah’s full interview with Gayle King will air on Wednesday, March 11 (8 PM ET/ 7 PM CT) as part of WW’s Wellness Wednesday Series on Oprah’s Facebook Channel.
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