Shortly after the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, Gayle King sat down WNBA player Lisa Leslie to discuss her close relationship with Bryant. When a clip surfaced of King questioning Leslie about the fallen athlete's sexual assault case from 2003, many were furious, sparking a public and violent backlash against the veteran journalist.
Snoop Dogg was one of King's loudest critics, using his platform on social media to blast the journalist for even broaching the sensitive subject in the first place. Shortly after CBS shared the controversial clip (which King later claimed had been edited by the network), the rapper shared an angry rant on Instagram. Along with a litany of insults, the hip hop icon also issued a warning to King that many interpreted as a thinly-veiled threat: "Respect the family and back off, bitch — before we come get you."
Oprah Winfrey revealed that her best friend was not doing so well following the interview, saying that King had been receiving death threats because of her line of questioning. Days after his tirade went viral, Snoop posted another video clarifying his statements — he would never wish harm on a woman — and apologizing for calling her out of her name.
Queen of healing and good vibes Jada Pinkett Smith invited Snoop to join her and the other Black women in her family at the signature red table to talk through his viral rant on the season three premiere of the popular Facebook series. Pinkett Smith expressed her disappointment in the rapper upon seeing him take down King, prompting Snoop to share his state of mind at the time.
"The whole intent [of the message] was to protect [Vanessa] and those babies, because they're still grieving," Snoop explained. "Let's give them that respect."
"It wasn't what you said — it's how you said it," said Pinkett Smith's mother Adrienne Banfield-Jones. Snoop conceded, saying that he only realized how inappropriate his approach had been after he saw the backlash spread like wildfire across the internet.
"It made me feel like I had too much power," continued Snoop. "And at that time, I felt like I was abusing it...and I had to get it right."
As it turned out, a conversation with his mother showed the rapper that he was out of line; she told Snoop that while she understood his feelings, the 48-year-old had been raised to respect women. The motherly dressing-down (combined with discussions with other powerful Black men like Tyler Perry and Diddy) brought Snoop back to earth, which led him to walk back his comments about King. He also reached out to the journalist's close friends and even sent her a direct message on social media asking to meet up privately to talk things out.
The season three premiere of Red Table Talk also included special appearances from Black women with a special message for Snoop. Life coach and television personality Iyanla Vanzant praised the rapper for being humble enough to right his wrongs, and sports broadcaster Jemele Hill spoke on the importance of the Black community correcting each other in love.
"Black men in this country have been made to feel like a target, and the weight of the pain and hurt that they've absorbed from the world comes back in [Black women's] direction," said Hill. "I think that you apologizing was a really big thing...and you were able to help us push this conversation along in a positive direction."
Snoop acknowledged that he had played a big part in the rampant culture of misogynoir that allowed for the disrespect of Black women, but he's now actively working on changing that culture: "Once you become a grown man, you realize that your words have power."