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Gayle King responds to Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault criticism, blames network for viral clip backlash


Michele Crowe/CBSGayle King says she’s ready to have an “intense discussion” with her network, CBS, after receiving harsh criticism over a now viral clip in which she questioned former WNBA star Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant‘s sexual assault case.

“I’ve been up reading the comments about the interview I did… and I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I’d be extremely angry with me too,” King says in an Instagram video. “I am mortified. I am embarrassed and I am very angry.”

“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 continues. “I didn’t even know anything about it.”

In King’s interview, the CBS This Morning host questions Leslie about Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case, which was settled out of court in 2005 after criminal charges were dropped.

“It’s been said that his legacy is complicated, because of a sexual assault charge that was dismissed… Is it complicated for you, as a woman, as a WNBA player?” King asks.

“It’s not complicated for me at all,” Leslie replies. “That’s just not the person that I know.”

King then seems to push the issue, adding, “But Lisa, you wouldn’t see it though. As his friend, you wouldn’t see it.”

In her Instagram response, King addresses the immense backlash, explaining she was confused by the response.

“I started getting calls. ‘What the hell are you doing? Why did you say this?,'” she said. “I did not know what people were talking about. So I’ve been told, been advised to say nothing, just let it go.”

But instead, King said she wanted to address the backlash, adding that she was upset that the network put “out the most salacious part” of the interview.

“[It’s] very upsetting to me and that’s something I’m going to have to deal with with them,” King said. “There will be a very intense discussion about that.”

As of Thursday afternoon, CBS hadn’t publicly responded to the issue, or to King’s subsequent comments.

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