Scott Kowalchyk/CBSIf you saw journalist Gayle King‘s interview earlier this week with R. Kelly, you probably wondered what it was like to be mere feet away from the singer when he jumped up from his chair and began screaming at the camera.
Appearing Thursday night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, King insisted that while she was concerned, she was never afraid Kelly would physically harm her.
“I never thought that he was gonna hurt me or hit me,” said King. “What I was worried about was that he was flailing so and hitting his fist so violently, I was worried that he would accidentally hit me.” Then, as the audience began to laugh, King added, “And I don’t want to accidentally get hit either, guys.”
King is being widely praised for how she maintained her composure in the face of Kelly’s histrionics, and in particular for one moment in which she calmly called him by his first name, Robert, in an effort to calm him down.
“That ‘Robert’ is instantly legendary,” Colbert said after playing a clip of the moment, while King laughed. “Anybody who freaks out at anybody, from now on out, if anybody yells at me, for the next year, I’m just gonna go: ‘Robert.'”
King also shared a previously unseen clip from her interview, during which she asked Kelly why he continued to have relationships with much younger women, given the allegations over the years that he’s had sexual relationships with minors. Kelly was arrested on new, similar charges two weeks ago.
“This is not just a ‘he said, she said,’ King told Colbert, criticizing Kelly’s response. “This is a ‘he said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said.’ And he keeps saying that, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong. All these women are lying.’ I go, ‘Everybody is lying except for you?’ You know, that just defies logic.”
As for Kelly himself, King said his lack of “reflection” and “contrition” during the interview affected her.
“It became very troubling for me to see him really just fall apart,” said King. “I thought we were witnessing the self-destruction of a man having a breakdown. And that’s never a good thing to see, never.”
CBS will air King’s R. Kelly interview again Friday night at 8:00 ET/7:00 CT in a one-hour special that’ll include previously unaired interview footage from the sit-down. It’ll also include parts of King’s interview with Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, women who currently live with R. Kelly. Portions of that interview aired Thursday on CBS This Morning.
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