Gayle King Opens up About Explosive R. Kelly Interview: 'I Was Not Scared'

CBS This Morning host Gayle King opened up about her explosive interview with disgraced singer R. Kelly, who got up at one point and cried as he claimed he was innocent.

After the first part of Kelly's interview with King aired Wednesday, a photo of Kelly standing over King screaming while she remained calm and poised went viral. Some — including King's friend Oprah Winfrey — even wondered if King was scared, but she said she was not.

"I was not scared. I never thought he was going to hit me," King told O: The Oprah Magazine. "After, Oprah and my kids Kirby and Will called me to ask if I was okay because it looked scary. But I was never worried he was going to hurt me. I was more worried that he was going to get up and leave."

King continued, "So what I was really thinking to myself was: I'm not done with this interview, so I'm going to let him have his moment. If I stood up even to comfort him, that could have been his invitation to say 'This is over.' So I didn't interrupt his anger and let him have that."

Even though Kelly stood over King, screaming and crying, she said she "just knew" she was never in danger.

"I did worry at some points that he might accidentally hit me, because he was so angry that he was flailing," King explained. "But I knew that I wasn't in any real danger. I just kept thinking 'Okay, Robert, go ahead' and that's what I said."

King's interview with Kelly was his first major interview since Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly documentary series aired in January. It was also his first since Chicago prosecutors charged him with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. Kelly pleaded not guilty to the charges, which stem from alleged abuse that took place over 12 years. Prosecutors say they have evidence of Kelly allegedly engaged in sex acts with underage girls, including a video allegedly showing him with a 14-year-old girl.

During the interview, Kelly insisted he was innocent, telling King he was being "buried alive" and "assassinated."

"I have been assassinated. I have been buried alive. But I'm alive," Kelly said as King asked him if he ever held women against their will.

"I don't need to. Why would I?" Kelly said. "How stupid would it be for R. Kelly, with all I've been through in my way way past, to hold somebody, let alone 4, 5, 6, 50, you said — why — how stupid would I be to do that?!"

Kelly went on to tell King to "use your common sense," adding, "How stupid would it be for me, with my crazy past and what I've been through – oh right, now I just think I have to be monster, and hold girls against their will, chain them up in my basement, and don't let them eat, don't let them out, unless they need some shoes down the street from their uncle!"

As he stood up, Kelly yelled, "Stop it. You all quit playing! Quit playing! I didn't do this stuff! This is not me! I'm fighting for my f—ing life! Y'all killing me with this s—! I gave you 30 years of my f—ing career!"

After her interview with Kelly, King spoke to Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Kelly, who are referred to as his "girlfriends." Their parents claim the two were "brainwashed" by Kelly, who said their parents "handed" them over to him.


CBS will air a one-hour primetime special of the interviews on Friday at 8 p.m. ET. As for Kelly, he is now in prison on charges of missing child support payments.

Photo credit: CBS/Lazarus Jean-Baptiste