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8 Feb, 2020 14:13

US broadcaster Gayle King ‘gets death threats’ after Kobe Bryant rape case question as media grapples with NBA star’s legacy

US broadcaster Gayle King ‘gets death threats’ after Kobe Bryant rape case question as media grapples with NBA star’s legacy

US broadcaster Gayle King has received death threats amid the backlash over an interview in which she asked about rape allegations against late NBA star Kobe Bryant, King’s friend Oprah Winfrey has said.

King was subjected to a barrage of online criticism after footage aired of a CBS News interview with retired women’s basketball star Lisa Leslie.

In the clip, King asks Leslie about the sexual assault claims brought against Bryant in 2003 – but which were later dropped – and whether they affected her view of Bryant’s legacy.

King, who co-hosts flagship CBS show ‘This Morning’, faced an online storm over the question – including from rappers 50 Cent and Snoop Dog.

The latter issued an expletive-laden video message directed at King in which he branded her a "funky dog-head b*tch” and warned her to “respect the family and back off… before we come get you.”

An angry King issued a message on Thursday in which she said the clip had been aired “out of context” by her employers CBS, and that the question about the sexual assault allegations against Bryant was a small part of a wide-ranging interview with ex-WNBA star Leslie.

“I’ve been up reading the comments about the interview I did with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant, and I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I’d be extremely angry with me, too,” King said in an Instagram post.

“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. It’s jarring to me. I didn’t even know anything about it.”

“The last thing I would want to do is disparage him at this particular time, and I hope people understand that,” the 65-year-old broadcaster added.

Friend and fellow veteran broadcaster Oprah Winfrey revealed on Friday that King had received death threats amid claims that she was unduly trying to tarnish Bryant’s legacy.

“She is not doing well. She has now death threats and has to now travel with security and she’s feeling very much attacked,” a tearful Winfrey told the ‘Today’ show.


Former LA Lakers star Bryant tragically died at the age of 41 along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in California last month.

As one of basketball’s biggest ever icons, and as an athlete whose name transcended his sport, Bryant’s death caused a wave of grief and mourning around the world.

Fans in LA and far beyond paid tribute to the five-time NBA champion, who was an 18-time All-Star during his 20 seasons with the Lakers and sits fourth on the all-time scoring list.

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While Bryant’s legacy was praised, there was also debate over how the historic sexual assault allegations against him should be treated.

Bryant was accused in 2003 of rape by a 19-year-old female hotel concierge in Colorado. The alleged victim later decided not to pursue the case and reached an out-of-court settlement with Bryant in 2005.

The basketball star, who was 24 at the time, maintained that the encounter had been consensual but later said he recognized that the alleged victim “did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.”

In light of Bryant’s death, media raising the incident have risked the wrath of Bryant’s fans but also accusations of a lack of sympathy toward the grieving family.

Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez tweeted a link to an article about the Bryant sexual assault case in the wake of the star’s death, leading to her suspension by the outlet.

After protests from hundreds of colleagues, Sonmez was later reinstated.

Veteran broadcaster King will now be hoping that the rising tide of anger directed at her will also similarly pass.