UPDATED with CBS News statement, 12:02: CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King posted a two-part video on social media Thursday morning, saying she was “mortified” and “very angry” at CBS for posting a “salacious” clip of her interview with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant. (See King’s video below.)
In the clip, King asks Leslie, a former WNBA star, about the legacy of Bryant, who died along with eight others in a helicopter crash on January 26, given his sexual assault case in Colorado. While the criminal complaint against him was dropped, Bryant reached an out-of-court settlement with his 19-year-old accuser and issued a statement acknowledging that their sexual encounter may not have seemed consensual to her. The episode has proven a challenging aspect of remembering Bryant.
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“It’s been said that his legacy is complicated … Is it complicated for you, as a woman, as a WNBA player?” King asked. Leslie said it was not and said in all her dealings with Bryant she never knew him to be “the kind of person that would … do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way.”
In the part that caused backlash on Wednesday, King then replied, “But Lisa, you wouldn’t see it, though. As his friend, you wouldn’t see it.”
King blamed CBS (without specifying a division or group responsible) for releasing a clip that she felt was incapable of showing the full scope of the interview, in all of its nuance.
“Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview,” she said. [It was] “totally out of context and when you see it that way, it’s very jarring.
“I’ve been advised to say nothing, just let it go. ‘People will drag you, people will troll you. It will be over in a couple of days.’ But that’s not good enough for me because I really want people to understand what happened here.”
A CBS News spokesperson owned up to the network’s role in a statement provided to Deadline. “Gayle conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview with Lisa Leslie about the legacy of Kobe Bryant,” the statement said. “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.”
King said Leslie’s perspective on the sexual assault case was important to hear because she is a member of the media, working as an on-air analyst for Fox Sports Florida. “It was very powerful when she looked me in the eye as a member of the media and said, ‘It is time for the media to leave it alone and back off,'” King said, adding that she posed followup questions (which were included in the clip CBS released) just to draw out further thoughts.
“For the network to take the most salacious part, when taken out of context, and put it up online … is very upsetting to me,” King said. When the full interview aired, she added, feedback was positive, including from Leslie.
King ended her message by saying she was still “in mourning” over Bryant’s death. “The last thing I would want to do is disparage him at this particular time.”
Here is King’s two-part video message:
Here’s the segment of the interview that CBS This Morning has on its YouTube channel:
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