The rapper had some harsh words for the television journalist after she asked WNBA star Lisa Leslie on CBS This Morning earlier this month about the sexual assault charge brought against Bryant in the early 2000s.
“I accept the apology and understand the raw emotions caused by this tragic loss,” King, 65, said in a statement to the Associated Press.
She also addressed how “as a journalist, it is sometimes challenging to balance doing my job with the emotions and feelings during difficult times,” adding, “I don’t always get it perfect but I’m constantly striving to do it with compassion and integrity.”
King’s comments come after Snoop apologized for an expletive-filled video criticizing King. He said in a Wednesday Instagram clip that he “overreacted” and explained, “Two wrongs don’t make no right. When you’re wrong, you gotta fix it. … Gayle King, I publicly tore you down by coming at you in a derogatory manner based off of emotions, being angry at questions that you asked.”
“So I would like to apologize to you publicly for the language that I used and calling you out of your name and just being disrespectful,” continued the rapper, 48, going on to say that he “didn’t mean it for it to be like that” and that his intention was “expressing myself for a friend that wasn’t here to defend himself.”
NBA legend Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash last month at the age of 41, alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other passengers in Calabasas, California. In the wake of the tragedy, King interviewed Leslie for CBS This Morning, asking about Bryant’s life and legacy. As seen in the full interview, King brought up the sexual assault case about halfway through their conversation. (In 2003, Bryant pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault after a 19-year-old employee of a Vail, Colorado-area resort accused him of sexual assault. The woman claimed the basketball player also blocked her from leaving his room and allegedly choked her. Criminal charges against the athlete were eventually dropped, and a civil case brought against Bryant was settled out of court.)
“It’s been said that his legacy is complicated because of a sexual assault charge, which was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you as a woman, as a WNBA player?” King asked Leslie, 47.
“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’s just not the person that I know.”
King inquired whether the athlete thought the question was “fair” since Bryant is dead and that the case “was resolved.”
“I think that the media should be more respectful at this time,” Leslie replied, later noting that as the case was eventually dismissed. “I think that’s how we should leave it.”
After a clip of that portion of the interview was re-circulated by CBS, stars like Snoop and 50 Cent slammed King on social media. Their language provoked further backlash due to people perceiving their words to be threats against the venerated journalist.
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Last week, King blamed CBS for taking the sexual assault question “out of context” in the distributed clip.
In a statement to PEOPLE, a CBS News spokesperson said, “Gayle conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview with Lisa Leslie about the legacy of Kobe Bryant. An excerpt was posted that did not reflect the nature and tone of the full interview. We are addressing the internal process that led to this and changes have already been made.”
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Oprah Winfrey later said King was facing death threats after the incident, beginning to cry as she detailed the difficult situation her close friend had found herself in as the backlash intensified.
“She is not doing well,” Winfrey, 66, told Hoda Kotb during an appearance on Hoda & Jenna & Friends on Feb. 7, tearing up. “She has now death threats and has to now travel with security and she’s feeling very much attacked. You know, Bill Cosby is tweeting from jail.”
“In the context of the interview, everyone seemed fine, including Lisa Leslie. 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,” Winfrey continued. “Obviously all things pass; she will be okay, but she hasn’t slept in two days.”