CBS News head calls threats against Gayle King reprehensible

Gayle King speaks during the 62nd Grammy Awards Nominations Conference at CBS Broadcast Center on November 20, 2019 in New York City. (AFP)

The CBS News chief called threats against journalist Gayle King “reprehensible” Saturday as backlash grew against rapper Snoop Dogg and others critical of King for an interview where she asked about a sexual assault charge against the late Kobe Bryant.

Snoop Dogg had threatened King online this week following her interview with WNBA player Lisa Leslie about Bryant, the former Los Angeles Lakers star killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

“We fully support Gayle King and her integrity as a journalist,” CBS News President Susan Zirinsky told the Associated Press. “We find the threats against her or any journalist doing their job reprehensible.”

CBS would not discuss the nature of any private threats against King. Her friend, Oprah Winfrey, said in an NBC interview that King had received death threats and was traveling with security.

The rapper had joined with others, including 50 Cent and Bill Cosby, in criticizing King for asking Leslie whether Bryant's legacy had been complicated by the accusation that he raped a woman at a Colorado resort in 2003. Bryant said the two had consensual sex, but he later apologized for his behavior and settled a civil suit against him.

In a profane video posted on Instagram and shared on other social media platforms, Snoop Dogg criticized King for attacking “your people." He told her to “back off ... before we come get you."

King's questions had attracted little notice as part of a wide-ranging interview shown on “CBS This Morning.” But then CBS — mistakenly, it said later — posted a video online that focused strictly on the discussion about the assault case.

“The interview with Lisa Leslie was comprehensive and thoughtful,” Zirinsky said. “We are a country where differences of opinion are welcome, but hateful and dangerous threats are completely unacceptable.”

King's critics essentially voiced some variation of what Leslie answered — that the media should be more respectful of Bryant so soon after his death and not discuss this stain upon his record — although usually in sharper terms.

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