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Gayle King has opened up to her bestie Oprah about the public backlash she received over asking about the Kobe Bryant rape case in an interview with WNBA star Lisa Leslie following his death in January.
On Saturday, at the final stop of “Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour,” King recalled the “very painful” situation.
“I have moved on,” she told Winfrey in PEOPLE’s first look at the sit-down. “Is there a scab? Yeah. But I have moved on.”
“I put on my game face and my big girl pants, because I never lost sight of who I was, what I believe I am, and my intention. I’ve never lost sight of that. But it certainly was a learning curve, and it was very painful,” the veteran journalist continued.
In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado. He was charged with rape, but the case was dropped after the accuser refused to testify. She filed a civil suit that was later settled. In the days following his death, “CBS This Morning” posted a clip of King asking Leslie if she thinks Bryant’s legacy is “complicated” by the sexual assault charge.
“It’s been said that his legacy is complicated because of a sexual assault charge,” King asked. “Is it complicated for you as a woman, as a WNBA player?”
“It’s not complicated for me at all,” Leslie replied. “I just never have ever seen him being the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That was just never the person that I know.”
The conversation sparked outrage among fans of the NBA legend, and at the time, Gayle slammed the network for distributing an “out-of-context” clip from her interview with Leslie.
During her conversation with King over the weekend, Winfrey noted the “good people” who remained silent throughout the backlash.
“In every circumstance, I think this is something for us to remember,” Winfrey said. “It’s not the people who are being mean, it’s not the badness, it’s not the vitriol that’s being put into the world, but it’s the good people who remain silent that becomes so hurtful.”
“I think we can disagree politically, we can disagree socially, if you want to, but I just think humanity should prevail always,” King added. “I think we still have to figure out a way to navigate that with each other. That we can disagree, and you can be mad at me even, but you can’t speak to me the way I was spoken to and threatened.”
Winfrey previously spoke out in support of her longtime friend amid that hate she received over the Kobe questions, and she praised King over the weekend for displaying courage amid the criticism.
“I love that you said through it all you never questioned who you were,” Winfrey said.
“No, I absolutely didn’t, Oprah,” King replied.
King and Winfrey also discussed their bond.
“I never needed therapy because I had you as my friend,” Winfrey said.
“We have talked about everything and nothing,” King replied. “You’ve never had therapy, but I’ve been to five therapists when I was married. And may I just say this? Nobody has been a better therapist than Oprah!
Oprah and Gayle’s full interview airs March 11 (8 PM ET/ 7 PM CT) as part of WW’s Wellness Wednesday Series on Oprah’s Facebook Channel, and the WW Now Facebook Channel.
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