Gayle King is in the news today and rightfully so. Americans are outraged that she was the latest to drudge up the late Kobe Bryant's rape case from the early 2000's undoubtedly an unflattering part of his legacy. King asked Lisa Leslie about the trial and whether or not it ever complicated their relationship or Kobe's legacy. There were three questions that CBS This Morning shared but as I watched more of the clip, I understood what was happening from a different angle.
As a person who regularly asks questions, I know that many of the "softball" answers are already floating around so I try to dig deeper into the story being presented. If I'm interviewing a person on a press tour, I try to avoid asking the same question. This not only makes the interview unique, it adds depth to the experience for myself and the person I'm interviewing. This depth isn't always easily achieved however. Depth is predicated upon location, time constraints candor and a respectable level of transparency. Occasionally, I get a list of questions and topics that are off limits that I must do my best to avoid at all costs. That recent divorce? NO. "That video"? Don't even think about it. Wardrobe malfunctions can sometimes be ice breakers if you can extract some level of comedy from the moment, otherwise act as if it never happened. TMZ (the outlet that broke the news about the helicopter crash) has become infamous for reporting "news" you don't want the public to know, including in the moment death announcements. Though infamous for it, TMZ and its brand of reporting has earned a respected place in journalism that seldom others can co-opt-no matter how hard they try.
Because many of the artists I've interviewed often have their manager on the phone (who patches them into the call with radio hosts, etc) the threat of calls being interrupted or ended at their discretion looms heavily. In person interviews are no different. The manager or publicist could step in and end the interview when off limit topics are broached in the interview. Talent is quite often coached up to handle the "gotcha" topics being inserted into the interview and can handle them but publicists lay out clear cut guidelines for the interview before hand.
Lisa Leslie's unabated defense of Kobe Bryant was of Olympic proportion. Her defense of her late friend was as adroitly as she defended the rim during her days on the court. For her part in this, Gayle King has become the latest victim of the cancel culture running rampant, today. Social media is conflagrant and a simple post or share has become the firebrand that starts a consuming fire that takes days, weeks, months and even years to extinguish. Perhaps it was Snoop Dogg or Lil' Boosie's reaction that fueled the fire, maybe it was yours or your social friends. Perhaps the online commentary lines up with the thoughts in your head...while I don't condone any of the name calling, I do respect the human emotion behind it.
As journalists, we have a power few others have. We can get people to open up and share what they may have never been comfortable sharing with anyone else. and, Our reporting as a healing salve can help bring closure to painful situations that affecting people everywhere.We have the privilege of being the first to know and the last to leave scenes and situations that become the news we report. Our stories can bring joy, inspire hope, shed light, lift spirits and sometimes even cause pain. Along with this unparalleled power comes the responsibility of being objective. Over the years, objectivity has given way to bias. Bias is blinding and even when profitable, fails the audience we wish to serve. Many of these stories will tell themselves, if we allow them. Along with this power and responsibility comes the dichotomy of being the "bad guy" that starts or in this case ends a conversation.
Gayle King finally got around to asking whether or not it was fair to even ask about it considering the fact that Kobe is now dead. If anything good came from that exchange, Lisa Leslie's response is the ultimate good. While the internet has been filled with emotional responses to the interview, I must say that the timing of the line of questioning is poor. The bodies of Kobe and Gianna were released to the family on this week and no plans for a memorial had been publicized when this interview went to press. Emotions are still very raw and to invoke any ill will or to speak evil of any of the nine who lost their lives in that helicopter crash goes against any journalistic integrity.
Watch More of the Gayle King and Lisa Leslie Interview
Yep, I Said It!
When I have something to say, I often say it. Many times, I try to find the best way to say it. Other times, there's just no easy way to say a hard thing. My journey in life has made me a person with much to say and the person people least want to hear it from.