CBS anchor Gayle King has received death threats over an interview about late basketball star Kobe Bryant. Photo: AFP/File

CBS denounces threats against anchor over Kobe Bryant story

By Angela Weiss

The president of CBS News on Sunday denounced as "reprehensible" a comment by rapper Snoop Dogg that appeared to threaten a news anchor over an interview about late basketball star Kobe Bryant.

Bryant died, along with his daughter and seven other people, in a helicopter crash on Jan 26 in California. Since then, references to a 2003 sexual abuse allegation against him have drawn a furious reaction from fans.

Snoop Dogg's harangue on social media followed an interview that Gayle King, anchor of "CBS This Morning," had about Bryant with Lisa Leslie, a former star player in women's professional basketball.

In it, King seemed to press Leslie about the 2003 case, while Leslie repeatedly portrayed her friend as someone who "was never like that" and who would "never do something to violate a woman."

A seething Snoop Dogg then posted an obscenity-laced video online, calling King a "funky dog-head bitch."

He added, ominously, "Respect the family and back off, bitch, before we come and get you."

CBS President Susan Zirinsky called the remarks "reprehensible," adding in a statement to The Hill news website, "We fully support Gayle King and her integrity as a journalist."

In the wake of the exchange, King has received multiple death threats, according to her good friend, media mega-star Oprah Winfrey.

"She is not doing well," Winfrey said Friday on NBC. "She has now death threats, and now has to travel with security, and she's feeling very much attacked."

Also coming to King's defense was former national security adviser Susan Rice, who bluntly warned Snoop Dogg in a tweet to "back off," adding, "You come for @GayleKing, you come against an army. You will lose, and it won't be pretty."

King herself posted two videos saying the interview had been edited in a way that misrepresented its actual tone.

"I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I would be extremely angry with me too," she said in one video. "I am mortified. I'm embarrassed and I am very angry."

The video, she went on, was "totally taken out of context."

King said that in the full interview she had spent much more time talking about Bryant's career, his mentorship of younger people and his sense of humor.

A statement from CBS appeared to concede problems in the editing process.

"Gayle conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview," it said. "We are addressing the internal process that led to this, and changes have already been made."

Earlier, the Washington Post briefly suspended reporter Felicia Sonmez after she posted a link, the day of Bryant's death, that called attention to the 2003 allegations.

She said she received thousands of angry emails, including death threats.

Senior editors at the Post told her she had shown poor judgment, though other journalists at the Post rallied around her.

Bryant was arrested in 2003 after a woman in Colorado said he had sexually assaulted her in his hotel room there.

He insisted he had believed the encounter was consensual, but later reached an undisclosed settlement with the accuser.

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I understand not wanting to speak ill of the dead, but the evidence was very, very strong that there was forced nonconsensual sex [i.e. rape] and Kobe almost certainly avoided jail time because he was rich, powerful, and able to hire lawyers who were willing to play dirty. As he was one of the top professional athletes in the world when this happened, it raises all sorts of questions about the power and privilege of celebrity. Like it or not, it's part of Kobe's life story and needs to be discussed.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Justice must be served to all, including the dead. It will allow Kobe's rep to be cleared if priced untrue and will allow possible victims, if alive, to move on with their lives.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I think you need to watch the interview first, and then comment here. What caused the rants from the celebrity community was not the fact that she brought up this issue. Her questioning line kept pushing, and pushing as if she wasn't getting the answer she needed. Watch it if you haven't yet, and see if you wouldn't feel how petty she was being. i guess that's what annoyed the Doggy Dog and Co.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Gayle King is a legend in her own mind.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

The message is clear. Its OK to rape, then harass your victim until she eventually accepts a large cash payment to keep your illustrious basketball career on track.


3 ( +4 / -1 )

If you don't want people bringing up rape allegations, don't rape people. It's really not a difficult concept.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Attacks on the press, their right to report the truth are becoming all too common in Donny's America.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

There's a time and place for that and Gayle was way out of line.

She certainly shouldn't have gotten death threats but she should have not kept pushing those inappropriate questions to someone who was only a friend to Kobe.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The Left eating their own, I love it.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Gayle King is protected by Oprah at all time. Thus the threat from Susan Rice, ex National Security Adviser. I wonder who is this "army" she speaks of.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Disputes involving halfwit celebrities acting badly will always make the papers...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Left eating their own, I love it.

Oh, I definitely am with you on that.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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