After Gayle King's controversial interview with WNBA star Lisa Leslie to discuss Kobe Bryant's tragic death, King received backlash from viewers for asking about a sexual assault accusation made against Bryant in 2003. Oprah Winfrey revealed on the Today show that the hostility has escalated and that King is receiving death threats.
“She is not doing well,” Winfrey said through tears when asked about King. “She has now death threats, has to now travel with security, and she’s feeling very much attacked. You know, Bill Cosby is tweeting from jail.”
Winfrey also defended King's decision to ask about the legal issue, which some felt was insensitive to bring up so close to Bryant's death.
“In the context of the interview, everyone seemed fine, including Lisa Leslie," Winfrey stressed. "And 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 that Gayle was just trying to press to get an answer from Lisa Leslie."
In the interview, Leslie told King said the accusation did not complicate things for her and that she had never seen Bryant "being the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman."
“I think the media should be more respectful at this time,” she added. “It's like, if you had questions about it, you've had many years to ask him that. I don't think it's something that we should keep hanging out his legacy."
King later attempted to address the backlash on Instagram, saying the clip was edited out of context.
“I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I’d be extremely angry with me too,” King said on IGTV. “I am mortified, I am embarrassed, and I am very angry.”
Winfrey says things will get better for King.
"Obviously all things pass, she will be okay," Winfrey said. "But she hasn’t slept in two days."