Gayle King says she is “angry” with CBS for posting an “out of context” clip of her interview with WNBA legend Lisa Leslie about the late Kobe Bryant.
In the excerpt of an interview that aired Tuesday (embedded below), King brings up the sexual assault charge filed against Bryant in 2003, which ended in an undisclosed settlement. She then asks Leslie if it’s complicated for her, both as a woman and as an WNBA player, to reckon with that charge while reflecting on Bryant’s legacy.
Leslie answers that she did not know Bryant to be “the kind of person that would… do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way,” at which point the CBS This Morning anchor says, “But Leslie, you wouldn’t see it, though. As his friend, you wouldn’t see it.”
In two videos posted to Twitter on Thursday morning, King calls out her network for the release of the “salacious” excerpt, then attempts to set the record straight about her line of questioning.
“I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I would be extremely angry with me, too,” she says. “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,” King continues. “And when you see it that way, it’s very jarring. It’s jarring to me. I didn’t even know anything about it. I started getting calls. ‘What the hell are you doing?’ ‘Why did you say this?’ ‘What is happening?’ I did not know what people were talking about… I’ve been advised to say nothing, just let it go. ‘People will drag you, people will troll you. It’ll be over in a couple of days.’ But that’s not good enough for me, because I want people to really understand what happened here and how I’m feeling about it.”
That’s when King discloses what wasn’t seen in the selected clip.
“It was very powerful when [Leslie] looked me in the eye, as a member of the media, to say it is time for the media to leave it alone and to back off,” King says. “During the course of the interview, I asked follow-up questions because I wanted to make sure that her position and her perspective were very clear… And I insisted — I insisted — that part be in the interview, because I thought it put a nice button on that part of the conversation… So 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. And we will — there will be a very intense discussion about that.”
King then makes her own feelings about Bryant known. “I have been with Kobe Bryant on many social occasions,” she says. “He was very kind and very warm to me, and I felt that we had a friendly relationship. I, too, am mourning his loss, just like everybody else. I still am shocked by it. It’s tragic and untimely, and the last thing that I’d want to do is disparage him at this particular time.”
UPDATE: “Gayle conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview with Lisa Leslie about the legacy of Kobe Bryant,” a CBS News spokesperson said in a statement to TVLine. “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.”
Watch the buzzed-about excerpt from King’s Lisa Leslie interview below, followed by her response.