Gayle King Defends Decision To Discuss Kobe Bryant's Sexual Assault Charge In Viral Interview Clip

Television personality and journalist Gayle King found herself under fire this week when a clip from an interview she performed with Lisa Leslie shortly after the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant surfaced online.

TW: This article contains discussions of sexual assault and may be triggering to some readers.

In the clip, Gayle can be seen asking WNBA star Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant's legacy.

Instagram | @gayleking

“It’s been said that his legacy is complicated, because of a sexual assault charge that was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you, as a woman, as a WNBA player?” Gayle asked.

"It’s not complicated for me at all," Leslie replied.

Instagram | @lisaleslie

"That’s just not the person that I know," her answer continued.

Gayle then pushed the issue, stating, "But, Lisa, you wouldn't see it though. As his friend, you wouldn't see it."

After the clip surfaced online, fans began bashing Gayle for bringing the case up so soon after Kobe's death.

"It's disrespectful as [expletive]! You knew you were wrong gayle from the start and you KEPT pushing it further. i can't believe you!" wrote one commenter on Gayle's Instagram, whose opinion was echoed by many more.

Gayle has now taken to Instagram to defend herself.

“I’ve been up reading the comments about the interview I did with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant, and I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I’d be extremely angry with me too," Gayle stated in a video.

"I am mortified. I am embarrassed and I am very angry."

"Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview — totally taken out of context — and when you see it that way, it’s very jarring. It’s jarring to me. I didn’t even know anything about it," Gayle continued.

“I reached out to Lisa — because I know she’s a longtime friend of Kobe’s — to talk about his legacy and their friendship."

"We had a really wide-ranging interview, talked about many things: his career, his passion, his sense of humor, the way he was mentoring other people, how he was starting his next chapter, it was wide-ranging."

"And yes, we talked about that court case because that court case has also come up."

Instagram | @vanessabryant

"I wanted to get Lisa’s take on it as a friend who knew him well, what she thought, where that should stand. It was very powerful when she looked me in the eye, as a member of the media, to say, ‘It’s time for the media to leave it alone and to back off.”

“I also want to say this. I have been with Kobe Bryant on many social occasions. He was very kind and very warm to me and I felt we had a friendly relationship," Gayle stated.

"I too am mourning his loss just like everybody else. I still am shocked by it. It’s tragic and untimely and the last thing I would want to do is disparage him at this particular time," Gayle insisted.

Fans, however, are still not pleased with Gayle, and think that it was disrespectful to broach the subject at all.

What do you think? Was Gayle right to mention the effect the case had on Kobe's legacy, or should she have left it out of this interview? Let us know in the comments!