Oprah Winfrey appeared on Hoda & Jenna & Friends on Friday morning, and she began to cry when she was asked about the controversy surrounding her bestie Gayle King and the interview she did with WNBA star Lisa Leslie. King asked Leslie about Kobe Bryant’s 2003 rape case, and Winfrey revealed that King has received death threats because of it.
“I think the last 24 hours for your best friend have been pretty difficult after that interview with Lisa Leslie about Kobe. And I just wondered just how she’s doing,” Hoda Kotb asked.
.@Oprah emotionally responds to backlash her friend Gayle King received over King’s recent interview about Kobe Bryant with WNBA legend Lisa Leslie: “She is not doing well because she has now death threats.” pic.twitter.com/M8HrCp8vTr
— TODAY with Hoda & Jenna (@HodaAndJenna) February 7, 2020
“She is not doing well,” Winfrey replied as she started to cry. “She has now death treats and has to now travel with security and she’s feeling very much attacked. You know, Bill Cosby is tweeting from jail.”
Winfrey explained that King feels she was put in a “really terrible position,” and both Winfrey and King say that the clip was taken out of context. The media mogul said that in the context of the interview everyone seemed fine, and it wasn’t until someone at CBS shared that clip that people started to get upset.
Winfrey says she understands how people could get angry if they think that King was pressing to get an answer from Leslie. She added that all things pass and King will be okay, but her friend hasn’t slept in two days.
The talk show vet says the real problem is when “the misogynist vitriol and the attacking” makes it dangerous to be on the streets alone. Winfrey said that it’s not just the people who are attacking, but the other people who take the message and feel like they can do whatever they want because of it.
Oprah Winfrey said that she spoke with Gayle King via phone on Thursday night and Friday morning, and all she can do is “stand in the gap” and be there for her friend. However, Winfrey admits that this situation is extremely difficult because of social media and the attacks that come from people who haven’t even seen the interview.
Winfrey says that everyone has the right to their own opinion, but she draws the line when people express themselves with “hate and meanness.”
Halfway through the interview – which was released by CBS This Morning on Tuesday – Gayle King asked Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant’s “complicated” legacy, and wondered if his 2003 sexual assault charge made it complicated for her as as a woman and WNBA player.
“It’s not complicated for me at all,” Leslie replied. “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. That’s just not the person that I know.”
In an Instagram video King posted on Thursday, she said that she’s been reading the comments about her interview with Leslie, and if she only saw that one clip she’d be angry too.
Snoop Dogg, amongst other celebrities, had a mouthful for CBS Morning News Host Gayle King for her interview w/ Lisa Leslie pressing her on the 2004 sexual assault case vs the late Kobe Bryant
First part of the clip is what Gayle said and the second part is Snoop's response. pic.twitter.com/MkV5VhvLAB
— houseoflena (@houseoflena) February 6, 2020
“I am mortified, I am embarrassed and I am very angry,” King said. “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.”
A CBS News spokesperson said that Gayle King conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant’s legacy. And, the excerpt that was posted didn’t reflect the nature and tone of the full interview. The network has addressed the internal process that led to the error, and changes have already been made.