Gayle King debacle

William T. Robinson, Jr.

With the recent tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, along with seven others, the country is mortified and in inconsolable grief. Most of America finds coverage of the helicopter disaster that took their lives inconceivable and hard to understand, much less grasp. The loss is unbearable because most Americans feel they have lost a revered family member in Kobe who is without a doubt a legend, icon and role model to many young Americans.

The nation as well as the world is in mourning, honoring Kobe’s legacy as a basketball extraordinaire, a striving entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a humanitarian, an Oscar recipient, a coach/mentor, a doting husband and a phenomenal father to his four daughters.

Kobe’s love for his daughters has inspired other men throughout the world to embrace and show the love that they have for their daughters that is often overshadowed with adoration they manifest for their sons. Kobe inspired the hashtag #GirlDad. Men displaying time with their daughters has plummeted on social media.

America is praying incessantly for Kobe’s family, especially his wife, Vanessa, enduring the unimaginable grief of losing a husband and a child at the same time. One can only hope the prayers of the nation, time, and the arms of God surrounding the family, will carry them through.

One can assume that it is inconceivable, insensitive, and unthinkable that the media would try to attack or desecrate Kobe’s legacy, especially during this time of national grieving. His body has yet to be put to rest. This is a time of memorializing and honoring Kobe’s life and his contributions to the world. So why would CBS arrange an interview with Lisa Leslie, the retired WNBA superstar commemorating Kobe’s legacy, and air an excerpt, in which journalist Gayle King brings up a past allegation of sexual assault against Kobe that was dropped. Public outrage was inevitable because of the insensitivity and timing of the interview.

CBS chose to use one of the most renowned, intelligent, high profile Black women in news media, Gayle King, to do the interview. It is undisputed that Gayle King is one of the best news journalists in today’s media. The interview was supposed to be about celebrating Kobe’s life and legacy. A mounting question is why at this time would an interviewer knowingly taint Kobe’s legacy by bringing up any type of alleged sexual improprieties, thus initiating chaos in the grieving African American community that has seen many of their Black male icons emasculated?

Gayle King is an intelligent, highly respected news journalist on a national level. She makes the Black community proud of her positive representation of an African American female on a professional and intellectual level. King claims she was misrepresented by the network that presented the most salacious part of the interview, altering the wide- range interview and presenting an excerpt that took things out of context—especially if you didn’t see it in its entirety. Nonetheless, the interview as shown initiated a social media firestorm against King. The backlash was not kind or sympathetic toward King, although you had some who defended her position as a journalist.

King has publicly apologized, verbalizing that she was mortified, embarrassed, and angry at the way CBS chose to air the interview. She appears sincerely sorry and makes no amends she understands how the public would feel hurt and appalled at the way CBS presented the interview, portraying her in a negative light.

But in all honesty, she was doing her job, as a professional journalist. But you have those who adamantly feel King should have refrained from asking certain questions during the interview noting the sensitivity of the subject during this time of grieving for Kobe, his daughter, and the others killed. So, it is fair to say, you have two opinions.

Some of those who were outraged took to public social media condemning King’s actions and flooding the airwaves with foul and sordid comments, berating and dehumanizing King. The obscenities, profanity, and personal attacks toward King were threatening, unnecessary, inexcusable, and barbaric.

People are entitled to their opinions, but there are civil and humane ways to get your point across. Some of those upset, did choose to manifest their anger decently. It is understandable that emotions were running high, but under no circumstances should one stoop to threatening harm or death upon anyone because of differing views.

King is embarrassed, hurt, and profoundly sorry. Kobe’s devoted fans delivered their outrage and King clearly understands their feelings. It is only fair that we forgive her and hope and pray she can earn the respect and trust of the Black community she may have lost. We have forgiven other Blacks who have done far worst, who were unapologetic.

The hate, condemnation and divisiness manifested when Blacks turn against one of their own is what our White oppressors find delight in. You may feel King made a big mistake in judgment, but we should follow the adage about not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The right thing to do is to forgive her and to try to also understand or see the situation from her perspective. We should do our part in helping to catapult her back to her position as a professional national journalist we highly respect.

Gayle King is too valuable of an asset and   investment for the African American community to discard when we have a litany of African American women on reality TV displaying and representing Blacks in a negative light. Shouldn’t we be giving these women a wakeup call? When all is said and done, we can acknowledge that we live and learn and we should forgive those who honestly show repentance for their mistakes.

There are some people who feel Gayle King was just doing her job as a professional journalist. The hashtag #IStandWithGayle is growing, especially after the threats targeted toward her.