Oprah Says Gayle King Getting Death Threats Amid Kobe Bryant Controversy

Oprah Winfrey on the Today Show (Credit: NBC)

Oprah Winfrey got emotional Friday while discussing her best friend Gayle King’s controversial interview about Kobe Bryant.

During an appearance on the Today show with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager, Winfrey started choking up when she said King is suffering amid the backlash from her interview with Bryant’s friend, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie.

“She is not doing well,” Winfrey said through tears. “She is not doing well because she now has death threats and has to now travel with security. She’s feeling very much attacked. Bill Cosby…”

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Winfrey said King is so stressed out over the situation that she “hasn’t slept in two days.”

“Anybody can criticize anything, but the misogynistic vitriol and the attacking to the point where it is dangerous to be in the streets alone …” Winfrey said. “Because it’s not just the people who are attacking, it’s the other people who feel like they can take that message and do whatever they want.”

In her interview, King asked Lisa Leslie about Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case in Colorado. Bryant reached an out-of-court settlement with his accuser, and issued a statement saying their sexual encounter may not have seemed consensual to her. King noted that the late NBA star’s legacy is “complicated.”

Leslie replied, “It’s not complicated for me at all… I just never see — have ever seen him being the kind of person that would be — do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That’s just not the person that I know.”

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King uploaded a video to Instagram on Feb. 6, criticizing CBS for posting a “salacious” clip from her interview.

“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.

“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,” she added.

CBS later responded to King’s criticism by issuing a statement.

“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,” the network said.