Gayle King Speaks out Following Backlash Over Kobe Bryant Rape Question

Gayle King has responded to backlash she received after an interview with retired WNBA star Lisa Leslie in which King questioned Leslie about the rape allegations against Kobe Bryant, sharing a video on Instagram on Wednesday morning captioned "My perspective."

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"I've been up reading the comments about the interview I did with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant," King began. "I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I'd be extremely angry with me too. I am mortified, I am embarrassed and I am very angry."

Bryant was accused of rape in 2003 by a 19-year-old hotel employee and the case was settled out of court after the woman, who filed a civil suit, refused to testify. Bryant admitted to a sexual encounter with the woman, but claimed it was consensual.

"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," King continued in her video. "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 really want people to understand what happened here and how I'm feeling about it," she said. "I believe that Lisa was OK with the interview and I felt really good about the interview."

During the interview, King asked Leslie, "It's been said that his legacy is complicated because of a sexual assault charge which was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you, as a woman, as a WNBA player?"

Leslie replied, "It's not complicated for me at all... I have never 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."

"But Lisa, you wouldn't see it though. As his friend, you wouldn't see it," King said.

"And that's possible," Leslie answered. "I just don't believe that, and I'm not saying things didn't happen. I just don't believe that things [happened] with force."

In her video on Wednesday, King praised Leslie and said "it was very powerful when she looked me in the say it's time for the media to leave it alone and to back off."

The journalist also reflected on the interactions with Bryant that she had had throughout her career.


"I have been with Kobe Bryant on many social occasions," King said. "He was very kind and very warm to me. 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 I would want to do is disparage him at this particular time."

Photo Credit: Getty / Slaven Vlasic