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‘Embarrassed’: Gayle King Responds to Backlash for Bringing Up Kobe Bryant’s Sexual Assault Case, Blames CBS For Posting Teaser Clip

In an Instagram video she captioned “My perspective,” Gayle King said she felt the need to speak out after many ripped the “CBS This Morning” anchor on social media for asking about Kobe Bryant‘s 2003 sexual assault charge that was dismissed.

“I wanted you to hear exactly where I’m coming from and how I’m feeling and to let everybody know that no disrespect intended.”

Gayle King (L) responded to the criticism she received for bringing up Kobe Bryant’s (R) 2003 sexual assault charge in an interview. (Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images/Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images Sport via Getty Images)

King had brought up the charge on “CBS This Morning” during her interview with retired WNBA star Lisa Leslie.

Many, both in and out of the sports world, are still mourning the death of Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others on Jan. 26 in Calabasas, California.

A lot of people said it was in extremely poor taste for King to bring up the 2003 case — especially since it was dismissed and Bryant can no longer speak for himself.

“It’s been said that his legacy is complicated because of [a] sexual assault charge, which was dismissed in 2003, 2004,” King said to Leslie. “Is it complicated for you as a woman, as a WNBA player?”

Leslie said it wasn’t complicated for her at all, and that she never saw Bryant act inappropriately or aggressive toward a woman since they’ve been longtime friends.

“But Lisa, you wouldn’t see it, though,” King told her. “As his friend you wouldn’t see it.”

The backlash King received was also attached to the criticism given to her best friend Oprah Winfrey, who was slammed for interviewing Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them when they were children.

Plus, people have been upset at Winfrey for executive producing a documentary about the sexual assault charges surrounding Russell Simmons that she’s since backed away from.

Many said Winfrey and King are only interested in taking on the black men who are accused of sexual crimes and not people like Harvey Weinstein, who’s been accused of sexually assaulting multiple women.

In the video posted on Thursday, Feb. 6, King didn’t mention Winfrey, she only spoke about the Leslie interview and all the backlash, which also came from celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Ari Lennox and Lil Duval.

King also blamed her network CBS and said they showed the most controversial part of the interview without providing proper context.

“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,” said King. “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,” she added. “I didn’t even know anything about it. I started getting calls … I didn’t know what people were talking about.”

King also said she was advised to remain silent until the backlash blew over, but that approach wasn’t “good enough for” her. The “CBS This Morning” host explained why she brought up the sexual assault charge as well.

“I wanted to get Lisa’s take on it as a friend who knew him well. What she thought, where that would stand,” King stated. “It was very powerful when she looked me in the eye, as a member of the media, to say it’s time for the media to leave that alone and back off.

“During the course of the interview, I asked follow-up questions because I wanted to make sure her position and perspective were very clear,” she added.

King — who also mentioned that she spent time with Bryant in the past and he was nothing but kind to her — then said she’ll have a frank talk with CBS for posting the teaser clip without showing other parts of the interview.

“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 to me and that’s something I’m going to have to deal with with them,” she said. “The last thing I would want to do is disparage him (Bryant) at this particular time. I hope people understand that.”

In the comments, some people said they were happy that King showed contrition but others said they’re still upset.

“He is deceased,” one of the comments read. “What does it matter at this time. Question should not have been asked period.”

“I just would like to understand why you keep going after black men,” another person stated. “But Not yall friend Weinstein. Its disgusting and im over you and your bestie 🤷🏿‍♀️.”

“Gayle, your reputation is being impacted, I am glad that you are responding,” wrote someone else. “Being a responsible journalist is something that I know is important to you. I do think that bringing up the whole issue when Kobe isn’t even in the ground is very insensitive. One of your biggest fans.”

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