Gayle King says it was difficult to watch R. Kelly’s “emotional” outburst during her interview with the R&B star earlier this week.
The CBS The Morning co-host appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Thursday night to discuss her widely praised conversation with the singer, who’s facing 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
King said she visited Kelly at his apartment in Chicago’s Trump Tower about 15 minutes before the interview to break the ice.
“I didn’t want him for the first time you sit with him, it’s ‘lights, camera action’ … I didn’t want it to be like that, so, I wanted to at least have said ‘hello,'” she explained.
Colbert told King he was struck by the viral photo of her sitting calmly as Kelly went into a rage.
“I could see him getting more heated. He was upset with me about some of the questions,” King said, adding that her makeup artist snapped the picture.
“When I see Robert getting really upset, and he stands out of his seat, my initial reaction is, ‘Oh, God, please don’t leave, please don’t leave, please don’t leave,'” She recalled. “We’ve seen him storm out of interviews before. So I thought he was gonna do that, and I was thinking, ‘I’m not done with my questions. What can I do to save this interview?'”
The newscaster said she remained seated, hoping the R&B star would calm down.
“I thought if I just sit there quietly, looking at him, he would know I’m not going anywhere, and I’ll just wait for him to finish whatever this is, and then you’ll sit back down in your seat, and he did that,” she said.
Colbert played a clip of Kelly’s now infamous outburst and joked that he picked up a new interview technique from the exchange.
“If anybody yells at me, for the next year, I’m just gonna go, ‘Robert,’ ” he quipped.
King explained, “I thought if we had both gotten emotional and amped up like that, what good would come of that.”
She added that she was never concerned about her safety, but she was “worried that he would accidentally hit me.”
“If you could’ve seen the thought bubble [over my head] it would’ve been: ‘Ruh-roh! Please sit back down,’ ” she said. “‘You’re lookin’ a little crazy right now. Please sit back down.’ That’s what I was thinking.”
Colbert then brought up the now-viral moment when Fox News co-host Jesse Watters confused King with Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts Wednesday night on The Five. King said she emailed Fox host Dana Perino, who corrected Waters on air.
She said she wrote, “Thank you for letting him know that we’re two different people, and could you let the rest of your colleagues know that all black people do not look alike.”
Colbert joked, “It’s a good reminder.”
CBS News will air King’s entire interview with R. Kelly in a one-hour primetime special on Friday, March 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.