Oprah Winfrey On Gayle King’s Kobe Bryant Scandal: “She Is Not Doing Well”

A rain of backlash is pouring over Gayle

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A choked-up Oprah Winfrey said her best friend, Gayle King, has been receiving death threats after vitriol stemming from her “CBS This Morning” interview with Kobe Bryant’s longtime friend, WNBA player Lisa Leslie.

Earlier this week, the network promoted the interview with a clip that only focused on Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case, leading to harsh criticism from Bryant’s fans and friends devastated by his recent death in a helicopter crash. On Thursday, King slammed her own network for promoting the interview in such a way.

“She is not doing well. May I say, she is not doing well because, she now has death threats and have to now travel with security. She’s feeling very much attacked,” Winfrey said in an interview on NBC’s “Today with Hoda and Jenna” on Friday morning.

Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg

Saying King hasn’t “slept in two days” but will “be OK,” Winfrey added that her friend “was put in a really terrible position.” “It was only because somebody at the network put up that clip, and I can see how people would obviously be very upset if you thought Gayle was trying to press to get an answer from Lisa Leslie,” she said.

King posted a video Thursday explaining how the clip of her asking Leslie about Bryant’s 2003 rape allegation was taken “out of context.” She described her sit-down with Leslie as a “wide-ranging” interview about Bryant’s legacy, which included questions about the sexual assault allegation that was settled out of court in 2005.

Many of Bryant’s fans and friends attacked King for bringing up the case after he died in a tragic helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others last month. Rapper Snoop Dogg even called her a “funky dog-haired bitch” and threatened, “Respect the family and back off, bitch, before we come get you.”

King did not appear on “CBS This Morning” on Friday, and multiple sources told Page Six she’d received death threats since Snoop Dogg posted the video. We’re told King has even had to beef up security for protection.

“I think the vitriol … anybody can criticize anything, but the misogynist vitriol and the attacking to the point where it is dangerous to be in the streets alone because it’s not just the people who are attacking. It’s the people who take that message and feel like they can do whatever they want to because of it,” Winfrey said.

Winfrey said she’s spoken to King on the phone several times since the backlash, adding: “You try to be there for your friends, but this is very hard …”

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant

Insiders also told us King does not plan to speak further at the moment. “She does not want to contribute to the vitriol. She’s not OK and she really feels like CBS kind of threw her under the bus with this. This was not handled well and they really let her down,” a source said.

CBS released a statement Thursday that read: “Gayle conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview with Lisa Leslie about the legacy of Kobe Bryant. An excerpt was posted that did not reflect the nature and tone of the full interview. We are addressing the internal process that led to this and changes have already been made.”

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