Gayle King “was doing her job” in asking about Kobe Bryant’s past, journalists say

Andi McCloud | Staff Writer

Gayle King was being a responsible journalist for CBS when she asked about a past felony sexual assault charge against former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, several journalists agree.

“I just feel like she was doing her job,” Hampton University journalism major Marcus Nelson said, adding, “If you aren’t in her field of work, you just might not understand that.” 

Snoop Dogg issued a warning to King online after her “CBS This Morning” interview with former WNBA player Lisa Leslie about Bryant, who was killed Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash with his daughter and seven others.

The Associated Press reported that other celebrities, including LeBron James, 50 Cent and Bill Cosby, criticized King for asking Leslie whether Bryant’s legacy had been complicated by the accusation that he raped a woman at a Colorado resort in 2003. Bryant said the two had consensual sex, but he later apologized for his behavior and, after the charge was dropped when the accuser was unwilling to testify, settled a civil suit against him.

Snoop Dogg later posted an apology video after he was criticized for his extreme response.

Oprah Winfrey — King’s best friend — held back tears as she spoke on NBC’s “Today” show about death threats King received.

“We fully support Gayle King and her integrity as a journalist,” CBS News President Susan Zirinsky told the AP. “We find the threats against her or any journalist doing their job reprehensible.”

The Los Angeles Times, New York Times and other media organizations included articles about the assault charge in their news coverage immediately following his death.

King took to Instagram to speak about how a portion of her interview with Leslie was disseminated. 

“I am embarrassed,” King wrote. “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.”

Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones said King was in the right to ask the questions she asked.

“King had nothing to apologize for,” Jones wrote on Poynter.org. “She is a journalist and asked questions any responsible journalist would.”

During the CBS interview with Leslie, King said: “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?”

Leslie responded: “It’s not complicated for me at all. Even if there are a few times that we’ve been at a club at the same time, Kobe’s not the kind of guy — never been, like, you know, ‘Lis, go get that girl, or tell her or send her this.’ I have other NBA friends that are like that.”

King continued to question Leslie about whether or not she would have known the truth about Bryant’s alleged rape, and Leslie defended Bryant to be “never like that. I just never, have ever seen him being the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way.”

King talked to Leslie because the former Los Angeles Sparks star was one of Bryant’s good friends. 

“If you are a serious journalist, you cannot avoid the painful questions and topics,” Alfred Edmond Jr. wrote on Blackenterprise.com. “King’s interview with Lisa Leslie was about Kobe Bryant’s life and legacy; a good journalist knows you can’t just leave out the parts we don’t like.”

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