NEW YORK, N.Y. – In the wake of a social media backlash, CBS' Gayle King says she is embarrassed and angry with how the network promoted part of her interview with WNBA star Lisa Leslie that concerned the late Kobe Bryant.
King responded via Twitter on Thursday to address the reaction to a video clip from her wide-ranging “CBS This Morning” interview with Leslie that aired Tuesday. The clip, distributed online and on CBS News' social media accounts, focused on a portion of the interview where Leslie addressed a sexual assault charge that had been brought against Bryant and dismissed.
Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Southern California on Jan. 26.
“I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I'd be extremely angry with me, too,” King said. “I am mortified, I am embarrassed and I'm very angry.”
CBS responded by agreeing that the excerpt “did not reflect the nature and tone" of the complete interview. “We are addressing the internal process that led to this and changes have already been made,” CBS said.
It wasn't clear what those changes were. It's a delicate situation for the news division, where King is likely its most bankable star.
In the interview, King asked Leslie whether Bryant's legacy had been complicated by the assault case. Leslie said it hasn't, and called on the media to be more respectful of Bryant's memory. When Leslie noted that she had never seen improper behavior from Bryant, King said that she most likely wouldn't have been in a position to see it.
After the alleged victim decided not to pursue the case, she and Bryant reached a settlement in 2005. Bryant, who was 24 at the time of the Colorado incident, said he had committed adultery, but not sexual assault.
King was taken to task on social media for bringing the topic up. “Woke up to this interview and was just really pissed off,” actress Vivica A. Fox tweeted.
Rapper Snoop Dogg attacked King in a profane Twitter video that concluded with urging her to back off “before we come get you.”
Actor, rap artist and television executive 50 Cent said in an interview with The Associated Press that he thought it was unfair to bring up the old allegations because Bryant was no longer around to defend himself.
“It's just not the right thing to do,” he said.
Even Bill Cosby, weighed in from prison — or at least his official Twitter account did. In response to Snoop Dogg, disgraced comedian and convicted sex offender wrote: “Wwhen they brought me to my gated community and placed me inside of my penthouse, they didn’t win nor did they silence me. It’s so sad and disappointing that successful Black Women are being used to tarnish the image and legacy of successful Black Men even in death”"
In her Twitter video, King said that she'd been advised to say nothing about the issue and ride it out, "but that's not good enough for me.
“I really want people to understand what happened here and how I'm feeling about it,” she said.
Associated Press writer Gary Gerard Hamilton contributed to this report.