Gayle King says she's 'moved on' from Kobe Bryant backlash but 'a scab' remains

Suzy ByrneEditor, Yahoo Entertainment
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Gayle King is opening up about the backlash she faced over her Kobe Bryant interview questions.

The CBS This Morning co-anchor chose a safe space to discuss the drama — with her best friend Oprah Winfrey on Saturday’s final stop of the OWN honcho’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour.

“I have moved on,” King told Winfrey during the sit-down, of which People magazine obtained a clip. “Is there a scab? Yeah. But I have moved on.”

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King said that amid the drama — which saw Snoop Dogg among those slamming her and the newswoman getting death threats — she “put on my game face and my big girl pants, because I never lost sight of who I was, what I believe I am, and my intention. I’ve never lost sight of that. But it certainly was a learning curve, and it was very painful.”

Winfrey said that when things like that happen, “It’s not the people who are being mean, it’s not the badness, it’s not the vitriol that’s being put into the world, but it’s the good people who remain silent that becomes so hurtful.”

King agreed, adding, “I think we can disagree politically, we can disagree socially, if you want to, but I just think humanity should prevail always. I think we still have to figure out a way to navigate that with each other. That we can disagree, and you can be mad at me even, but you can’t speak to me the way I was spoken to and threatened.”

Winfrey applauded her friend for the way she handled it, saying, “I love that you said through it all you never questioned who you were.” And King replied, “No, I absolutely didn’t, Oprah.”

In the wake of Bryant’s death — in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 that also killed his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others — King interviewed his friend WNBA great Lisa Leslie about the L.A. Lakers star. King asked multiple questions about whether Leslie felt Bryant’s legacy had been tarnished by the 2003 rape accusation against him. (Bryant was charged with sexual assault by a 19-year-old hotel worker, but she ultimately refused to testify and the case was dismissed. The married Bryant publicly apologized to his accuser, saying, “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.” They later settled a civil lawsuit out of court.)

After CBS shared a clip of King grilling Leslie about Bryant’s legacy, there was online backlash — with Snoop leading the charge and 50 Cent weighing in. King started to receive death threats — and many tied it to Snoops’s reaction to the situation, which he shared on Instagram and some called “threatening.”

King herself criticized the clip that sparked the drama, saying it was out of context and salacious when the interview was wide-ranging. CBS publicly backed their star.

Snoop later publicly apologized to King and she accepted. He later explained on Red Table Talk that he was “frustrated” to see his friend’s past drudged up after his death and was speaking out of respect for Bryant’s grieving family. He said that the black community has so few “superheroes” that he found it especially stinging. In that interview, he also said he reached out to King privately but she didn’t reply.

During King and Winfrey’s conversation, the CBS personality credited her best friend for always being there to discuss things big and small, like the controversy as well as her 1993 divorce, which she rarely talks about.

“Nobody has been a better therapist than Oprah,” King said.

Winfrey shared a video on social media after her interview with King. King admitted she was “so nervous” for the exchange, in front of a sold-out crowd, which surprised Winfrey, who said she told King prior to the chat, “I got you.”

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