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.