Gayle King is being criticized for asking Kobe Bryant’s friend about the rape case

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While I saw that “Gayle King” was trending on Twitter for this interview, I didn’t stop and watch more than one or two tweets about it. I went into this interview clip cold, and I hope that’s what other people do (although I know many will not). Just take it as a short clip of Gayle King interviewing WNBA player Lisa Leslie, and the two women talking about Lisa’s friend Kobe Bryant:

From my perspective, Gayle was 100% doing her job as a journalist. To me, Lisa did not seem uncomfortable, and Lisa seemed open to answering questions about Kobe’s legacy and whether it’s appropriate to discuss the rape case following his death. Lisa even makes a very good point: the right time for journalists to actually give a sh-t about the case and the victim was when Kobe was alive. Instead, sports journalists largely whitewashed his image and treated the rape case like a minor incident that was dealt with and no one should say anything about it again.

Of course, Gayle and even Lisa were criticized for a million different reasons. The most awful argument, I think, is that Gayle can’t ask those questions because she’s a black woman and something something, she’s hurting black men. Like, do people understand what journalists do? And even if Lisa had been uncomfortable (which I don’t think she was), that too is real journalism: asking questions which might make the subject uncomfortable or defensive or sad. This is basic stuff. It would have been appalling if Gayle had ignored the subject, honestly.

Gayle heard the comments and criticism and so she posted this explanation on her Instagram. She basically says that this clip is “taken out of context” and that CBS put the clip out without her knowledge. Personally, I wish Gayle hadn’t explained it this way – the clip speaks for itself and is IS legitimately part of his legacy.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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68 Responses to “Gayle King is being criticized for asking Kobe Bryant’s friend about the rape case”

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  1. Silver Charm says:

    On one hand I get why the question is asked but on the other I kinda wish women weren’t the ones tasked with answering it.

  2. Blair says:

    100% agree.

  3. sassbr says:

    I think it’s fine to talk about it. Everyone keeps saying “now is not the time.” Ok, but when? When enough time has passed? When would that be? Who decides that? It’s alleged, yes, but he settled With the victim and never went to trial, and it will be an open debate for time to come. It’s unfortunate that his wife and remaining children have to hear it and have to deal with it, but those are the consequences of those actions-they don’t just touch you, they touch everyone around you.

    • Meg says:

      Exactly and there always seems to be an excuse for women being mistreated to not be discussed. Theyre criticized for being mistreated to begin with then policed in being told how and when to talk about the mistreatment itself. It’s all taking power away from them

    • Dee says:

      So, if Elvis died today, we wouldn’t be allowed to talk about his drug use for what, a week?

    • swedish chef says:

      What about his victim? How about we get her take on it? Has she come forward to talk about horrible he was to her? Maybe she doesn’t want this to be dredged up again for everyone to dissect all over again. Maybe she settled with him out of court and hopefully took the money (most victims are not so fortunate) to set herself up for a life of healing and positivity and PRIVACY, and here she is again with this all over the news. We know what happened and it was horrible. Kobe started his career as an entitled a$$ who thought he could help himself to any woman’s body. She risked speaking up and he paid a price for it. He then went on to better himself in career and family. We all know he did something wrong, but the only people left to deal with it are his family and victim. This has been brought up within the early hours of Kobe’s passing and continues to be. If the victim is trying to move on, then maybe we should too.

      • bluesclues says:

        He was never convicted you do not know if he committed rape.

      • doofus says:

        wow, really? so if someone isn’t convicted they didn’t do it?

        I present: OJ.

        also, the two men who raped me. never arrested, didn’t go to court or jail but they sure as hell committed rape.

      • Jaded says:

        She settled with him out of court. She was schizophrenic and on drugs to control it so it’s plausible that she couldn’t handle the stress of a hugely public trial.

      • Andrew’s Nemesis says:

        @BluesClues the ex who sexually assaulted me but wasn’t charged, along with the 98% of attackers who aren’t charged by the Crown Prosecution Service – he was innocent, right, and all those women reporting their rapes were liars?
        Do you honestly think ‘proof’ can only be established by a court of law

      • Lipreng says:

        Typically settlements state that the victim can no longer speak publicly about the crime.

      • Thinking says:

        Interesting to note that this woman came from a very wealthy family. She didnt need his money.

      • SKF says:

        Argh, okay. I see we need to do some sexual
        assault in the justice system education. RAINN stats say that only 5 in 1000 rapists will ever see a day in jail. That means that 99.995% of rapists get away with it. That does NOT mean that they are innocent.

        There is not a justice system in the world that has fantastic stats on rape / sexual assault. All experts agree that false reports are rare. When they do happen, the most common reason is that the person WAS sexually assaulted but points out the wrong person.

        The police or DA not bringing charges does not mean the victim lied – it means that they do not believe the case meets the burden of evidence required to convict. Due to the fact that the victim’s testimony is not considered strong enough as evidence, that presents a massive issue.

        Even in “perfect” cases with witnesses, loads of evidence, etc. the case is often pled out on a lower charge (eg: assault) or else the victims become exhausted by the mental and emotional strain of waiting years for their case to go to court. They just want to move on.

        When cases go to court, judges and defence lawyers often say absolutely appalling things to victims and character assassination is common. Despite laws in many places designed to stop defence lawyers asking victims about their sexual history, it often still happens. Judges do it too. Often judges dismiss cases because they can’t understand the logistics (eg: the infamous – why didn’t she just keep her legs closed judgment).

        Now, in this particular case, the victim had large lacerations around her vagina, as well as too many smaller lacerations for the medical examiner to count. Her blood was on her underwear and Kobe’s shirt. She had bruises around her neck consistent with being choked. Immediately after exiting the room, she told a co-worker what had happened, and he then told his father. She then told her mother who took her to the police station. Her description of the events is realistic and matches her injuries. Kobe first denied having sex with her, then admitted it but said it was consensual rough sex. Give. Me. A. Break.

        This victim was dragged through the mud for 15 months by Kobe’s lawyers, PR and fans. Her mental and sexual history was exaggerated and used as a weapon against her. I have seen no high quality reporting that she was schizophrenic. Only that she had suffered from depression. Never less, people with depression and mental illness get raped too and they should be able to bring their perpetrators to justice.

        She gave up because it was too much. Kobe’s apology ADMITTED that he now understands that for her it wasn’t consensual. That is rape. If he did not gain her consent and choked her, penetrated her with such force it caused her to bleed and have numerous lacerations, that is goddamn rape. Enough with this rape culture bullsh*t. I cannot stand it.

    • cf86713 says:

      @sassbr how about all the years he was alive?

      For me is that Lisa did answer the question and Gayle kept pressing because “But Lisa you weren’t there how would you know? ” or something to that effect. Lisa answered that the Kobe she knew wasn’t like that and it wasn’t the answer Gayle wanted.

      • sassbr says:

        So he was alive for 40 years and that excuses one instance of rape? I don’t understand your logic. He got to live those years totally consequence free. So he got a good deal. People do bad things. He used his power to suppress that story. Because he was famous, we have to forget and forgive? I don’t think so

  4. Caty Page says:

    Why do journalists have to defend asking about rape allegations? I thought maybe we were moving past blatantly ignoring the crimes of rapists.

  5. ariel says:

    If Kobe hadn’t (allegedly) raped that girl, it would not be part of his legacy.
    He, and he alone, is the owner of that part of his legacy.

    His death, his daughter’s death, 2 other little girls’ deaths, and each soul on that helicopter’s death- was a tragedy. I feel pain for each family that lost someone(s).

    Also, Kobe (allegedly) raped that girl.

    All of these things are true simultaneously.

    • schmootc says:

      Yes, yes they are. Our society just has such an issue with nuance and shades of gray. Everything and everyone have to be either all good or all bad and nothing and no one actually is either of those things.

      • Andrew’s Nemesis says:

        I think much of that – the lack of nuance – is down to social media
        Scientists several years ago evaluated emotional responses to a variety of posts. They found 80% of nuance is lost in translation. Perhaps teach philosophy from a young age in schools??

    • horseandhound says:

      if somebody does a great crime and it’s proven, then okay, no need to be polite about it. but when something is just an allegation, I think it’s very unfair and dangerous to act as if it was a sure thing. if he isn’t a rapist then talking about him in that light after his death is just terrible. whatever the truth is, the man is dead and this can only hurt his family and loved ones.

  6. doofus says:

    he was a great player who did a lot of good as he got older and grew up.

    and he also raped someone.

    both can be, and ARE, true.

    • babsjohnson says:

      OK but he’s dead now. So what’s the endgame here? How is it constructive ?

      • Maria says:

        Victims of abuse might like to be considered part of the conversation about famous men, maybe?

        Got into this debate about Kirk Douglas too. Why is it that these men are off limits?

      • Alisha says:

        Sweeping these things under the rug is not constructive either. Unfortunately, it is part of his life.

      • babsjohnson says:

        If they like to, they will. I’m all for offering support to victims that come forward but that is not the case here. Bryant and his victim settled, it was ages ago, I think it’s not for us to bring it back just to taint this man’s legacy. His victim could.
        I don’t know about Douglas’ case.

      • Maria says:

        He tainted his own legacy, by being a rapist. Why are we removing his agency?

      • doofus says:

        the “end game”?

        perhaps to not sweep the “bad” parts of his legacy away? recognize that he was all of these things? recognize that people are complex beings and not everyone is ALL good or ALL bad? is that “constructive” enough?

        so, victims only deserve support if THEY come forward? and if they don’t, we should forget about how they were victimized and NOT offer support? I disagree that it’s not for us to bring it back. should we ignore any famous person’s faults when they pass? will you ignore all of the abuses of $cientology when Cruise dies? are you going to ignore all of 45’s faults when he dies?

        and PS, his legacy is already tainted, by his own doing.

      • B n A fn says:

        I don’t know that he should be called a “rapist”, I would say an alleged rapist. The young lady did not go to court and have her case tried by her peers, he was never convicted in a court of law, She chose to settled this for money. Now he’s is dead this is being brought up again, not by her though. I’m not saying something bad did not happened, but because she settled, we should leave her alone, and his memory alone, cannot defend himself. Btw, I am a mother of both sexes so I try to be fair.

      • Thinking says:

        What is really troubling is what he told police. It is in the published reports. He described what he ‘does’ to women but ‘not’ his wife. He was into really dangerous and painful sex with his ‘side pieces’. I think this probably grossed out Vanessa more than the allegation of rape.

    • MadamNoir says:

      Calling him an outright rapist like he went to trial and was convicted is wrong. I think that’s the problem when it comes to Kobe and talking about this. You can’t just call someone a rapist if they haven’t been convicted of that, he can be called an alleged rapist but calling him an outright rapist is again wrong . I agree with his friend Lisa if people wanted to talk about this, when he was alive and able to speak for himself was the time to do so. What’s the point now he’s dead and the alleged victim never spoke out. People also wait until someone is dead to either throw flowers or stones at them and by that time it’s too late.

      • Maria says:

        According to RAINN, only 5 out of every 1,000 rapes committed ends in conviction. And rates of reporting are extremely low. Most victims don’t feel safe even in everyday contexts. If your attacker is a high profile man, this feeling is doubled.
        People did speak about this when he was alive. Nobody is listening to the conversation.

      • Kate says:

        babs, I don’t think his (alleged) victim CAN come forward, I think she is prohibited from speaking about it as part of the NDA/settlement.

      • doofus says:

        “You can’t just call someone a rapist if they haven’t been convicted of that”

        as noted by Maria above, very few rape cases go to court, and of those that do, few result in conviction.

        that doesn’t mean that the woman/man was not raped.

        neither of my rapists (people I knew who took advantage of me when I was too drunk to consent) were arrested, or went to court.

        But I know DAMN WELL that they’re rapists and that they raped me.

      • bluesclues says:


  7. HK9 says:

    Look, when I heard about Kobe’s death, I not only remembered his career, and the great things he was currently doing, I also remembered the rape case and him spending a lot of time cheating on his wife. Why, because these were all the things that happened in his life

    People are complex and nuanced and she didn’t ask anything that hadn’t crossed my mind. However I do understand people tend to whitewash someone’s life when they pass as a sign of respect, and the tragic nature of he and his daughter’s death has made this impulse even more pronounced.

    • lucy2 says:

      Well said.

    • bonobochick says:

      This is a good post.

      A person’s legacy is both the good and bad. IA that when people pass, folks lean into wanting whitewash a person’s history and we see a lot of hagiography retrospectives and comments due to that,

  8. BlueSky says:

    It was frustrating because people started bringing up her “friendship” with HW and how come she isn’t coming for him. Like, would all this be allowed if she had gone after white men too? This is a lose lose situation. Even if she had gone after HW she would have been criticized. I agree, she was doing her job. She would have been criticized if she hadn’t brought it up. The only part that made me uncomfortable about was that she seemed dismissive and confrontational with LL.

    • MellyMel says:

      I agree to some extent, but it is interesting that Gayle, nor Oprah have done any kind of interview or been a part of a special about HW (yet), but have about Kobe, MJ and R.Kelly. I get why ppl are asking that question.

    • HK9 says:

      Why don’t black men come for Weinstein if it means so much to them? Yeah right-because it doesn’t.

  9. Samanthalous says:

    I wish the question was more pressed when he was alive. Now that he has passed I will wait before a documentary on the subject comes out, before people start moving beyond he played basketball and really look at the case.

  10. Meghan says:

    I am not trying to whitewash this situation AT ALL, I am not even a huge Kobe fan. To me, it seems like we aren’t allowing for him to have grown and learned from this situation. I’ve never heard of him raping/assaulting/harassing any one after this event. Can people not grow and change, better themselves?

    I fully believe the woman and that he raped her and that this part of his life story should not be ignored.

    • Taryn says:

      Yeah I get what you’re saying, and I think that’s why people are so conflicted to talk about this situation and everything that’s happened. The whole thing is just very….complex. Human’s aren’t perfect, and it’s better that he showed to the world that he became a better person, husband, and father after his rape trial. But the fact is even though he was all those positive things and should be remembered for them, he did rape someone. I can’t imagine how it must feel for the victim hearing all these story ONLY talk about how much of a good person he was/became. All things can be true about Kobe, and his rape case shouldn’t be buried under the rug just because he was a good man towards the end of his life. People just need to stop worshipping celebs like gods to have balanced viewpoints about them.

    • lucia says:

      You’ve probably never heard of any more cause he got better at hiding it, there are rumors of at least two other children he has from extramarital affairs.

      • cf86713 says:

        @lucia that’s not the same as rape though and he’s been retired for years… so its not as if there’s anyone to protect him.

        Time will tell one way or another always does.

    • Case says:

      I’m of a similar mindset. I don’t mean to dismiss the allegations against him at all and I believe his accuser. Based on everything I’ve read about the kind of man he was more recently (which admittedly isn’t very much), it appears that he tried to become a better man — a great dad and very charitable, and definitely someone who made an effort to better themselves. But again, at the same time, his past actions shouldn’t be ignored. We contain multitudes.

  11. Catherine says:

    What happened to Kobe and his daughter was a tragedy, but the “sainthood” treatment hes getting has been a bit …. nauseating. I feel like I’m the only one that remembers how he violently raped a teenage girl. I was a prosecutor at the time and his defense and his LA PR team went into Eagle, Co (a tiny town btw) and really changed the game as to how rapists get a “not guilty” by bullying and ruining the victims life – for the second time. I encourage anyone who’s interested to google the case and read about it themselves. It doesn’t change the fact that a horrible accident happened to him and his family. But. To pretend that he didn’t rape this girl….I just can’t help but think how she’s feeling seeing all of the women (especially) falling all over themselves making him a saint.

    In short: there’s a reason he changed his number from 8 to 24 and that reason is rape.

    • Goldie says:

      Thank you for this comment. I keep wondering if all the people who keep asking “What’s the point of bringing this up” are even familiar with the details of the case. I think it’s worth revisiting for a number of reasons. The way the victim was treated was abhorrent, and it really had a huge effect on other rape cases. I think it’s important to look back on how things have improved since then, as well as looking at the work that still needs to be done.
      A few days ago I read a new interview with the prosecutor of the Kobe Bryant case on People should check it out if they’re interested.

      • dj says:

        @Catherine Yes. I remember reading the details of this case (at that time). After working with many sexual assault victims, the first thing out of my voice is that poor young woman who he sexually assaulted…now she is going to have to sit around while everyone talks about how saintly her rapist was. I hope she is in therapy right now. Getting the help she needs.

    • pineapple says:

      Catherine, thanks so much for your post. I hope all posters read it. The whole issue with rape is it is NEVER REPORTED!!!!!!!! BECAUSE of men like Kobe, who use a system of patriarchy to fight women. He can be an amazing sports hero and a human with huge flaws. He can be both. Many, many successful people are. Until everyone understands this, it needs to be repeated and repeated for people to hear.

    • cf86713 says:

      @Catherine Except you know the case never went to trial and she didn’t even want to pursue a criminal case but a civil one. It was her word versus his she wasn’t that credible changing her story every time etc.

      Look I’m a woman I followed the case but you never found it odd that no other rumored allegation ever followed him after that. Can’t say the same for BIll Cosby or others…

      Kobe isn’t a saint but he was never found guilty yet as a prosecutor you’re claiming it as fact.

      • kim says:

        @cf86713 I think the victim didn’t pursue the criminal case because she was afraid to testify and given the way she was treated – name leaked, multiple death threats, coworkers questioning if she was raped based on her behavior (acute stress reaction and PTSD can present very differently than how many would assume a victim would react)… I can’t say I blame her. You might not have heard other allegations against Kobe, that doesn’t mean there weren’t other incidents. Regardless, even if there never was another incident, one woman accusing a man of rape should be enough. Do we really need 12, 60 women accusing someone of rape in order to believe that it might have happened? Why is one woman’s voice not enough? Below is an excerpt from Kobe Bryant’s apology to the victim (you can find the full link here

        “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. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this

  12. Eliza_ says:

    If someone dies tragically society drops all their bad news cycles (until the next generation picks it up, and questions it). Paul Walker’s underage girlfriend? Nope, never discussed.

    Listen, it’s a bit too soon for the question. But it’s not an invalid question to ask. But ask both men and women, ok? No one is a saint, it’s best for history to accurately depict people.

  13. pineapple says:

    Traditionally history has been written by men, about men and for men. Now that women are involved in noting history … it will be written and remembered differently.

    As a women I so, so empathize with Kobe’s family, all of the families and loved ones affected. I also empathize with the young teenager from a small town and her mother and her loved ones. I empathize with both.

  14. Dani says:

    People should have cared abut the case more when he was alive and going through it and squashing it as opposed to when he and his daughter and a bunch of other innocent people burned to death.

  15. Gigi La Moore says:

    I’m with Lisa on this. He was alive for 17 years. Plenty of time to pursue this line of questioning. It’s amazing who Gayle and Oprah focus on.

  16. Aimee says:

    Now that he’s gone and I assume an NDA is null and void I’d love to hear from the accuser.

  17. Case says:

    Gayle is a journalist and shouldn’t apologize for asking valid questions. That said, I agree with Lisa that the trial happened a long time ago and people had plenty of time to talk about it and ask him about it when he was still alive. The media chose not to. I don’t think people like Lisa should be left answering these questions on his behalf, and I don’t think his family should have to deal with it when they’re grieving this loss. It should’ve fallen on him and him alone.

  18. SM says:

    I am bot sure why ask this question of a woman. She is not responsible to answer about what a man does and especially in this very sensitive situation and moment. Why put a woman who has no responsibility for any man’s personal life be put in this situation?

  19. Flowert2.0 says:

    I think it’s disgusting to drag a black man’s legacy, who btw wasn’t even found guilty, let’s talk about Elvis marrying 14 year old and his drug use? Let’s talk about Paul walker dating underage girls. Ofcourse we will not because they’re not black. I hate that people are actually justifying and defending Gayle. For God’s sake his daughter died with him. Where’s the humanity?

    • HK9 says:

      People talk about Elvis & Paul if you’ve payed attention. Here’s the thing about legacy that no one understands, everything you do is included not just the nice parts. And if you don’t like it, don’t rape people.

  20. Lin says:

    99.9% of you are missing the point and have it wrong about this Gayle King debacle.
    Black people are mad and disgusted with her (and Oprah) because they don’t go after the HWs or Roman Paedoraphillys and other white men who have done heinous things. They applaud them or refuse to talk about them flat out.

    That’s why people are mad. Gayle and Oprah always find time to tear down black men yet. Why hasn’t talked about trying to reach out to one of hws friends or victims for an interview?

    • HK9 says:

      Black women are expected to be raped and abused by all men but say nothing about black men. That time is over. What is shocking to me is black men don’t go after the Weinsteins and Polanki’s of the world either. Why, because they want their power in exactly the same way. That’s scary, and no one wants to talk about that.

  21. Charlotte says:

    U r all so fake ! I guess when the prosecutor dismissed the case because the woman how many different semens in her is not important for u.!!!! No the black man will always guilty!
    To me when a white woman accuses a black man I always have my doubts ( rip Emmett)

  22. Charlotte says:

    U r all so fake ! I guess when the prosecutor dismissed the case because the woman had many different semens in her is not important for u.!!!! No the black man will always be guilty!
    To me when a white woman accuses a black man I always have my doubts ( rip Emmett)