The hashtag #IStandWithGayle has been gaining steam on social media

By Eric Todisco
February 12, 2020 12:29 PM
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Gayle King has received significant support following the intense backlash she faced for asking WNBA star Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant‘s 2003 sexual assault case.

King’s close friend Oprah Winfrey said on Hoda & Jenna & Friends Friday that King has gotten death threats since the interview. Now, the hashtag #IStandWithGayle has spread on social media in support of the 65-year-old journalist, with celebrities and famous journalists chiming in online.

Amy Schumer wrote on Instagram, “I stand fiercely with @gayleking one of the most beloved journalists, mothers and friends of our time. However you feel about her interview, her receiving serious death threats is disgustingly unfair and unacceptable. Shame on you CBS for putting her in this position. #standwithgayle.”

Karine Jean-Pierre, an MNBC political analysis, said on Twitter, “When you are a black woman in this country, you feel threatened, and many times people don’t stand up for you. #IStandWithGayle.”

Jean-Pierre’s post was shared by many, including Mia Farrow and Kathy Griffin. “Agree. I will always stand up for you. And I fearlessly and proudly say #IStandWithGayle,” Griffin wrote.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker supported King on Twitter and called on the threats against her to stop.

“For those of you criticizing @GayleKing, go watch her full interview,” Booker wrote. “For many of you, check your misogyny. For those threatening her and inciting violence, stop it immediately. This is unacceptable. We must do better.”

Like Booker, Sunday Today‘s Willie Geist shared a supportive message for King on Twitter and implored people to watch the full interview.

NBA star 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. A memorial service will be held at the Staples Center on Feb. 24. 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, the famous journalist brought up the sexual assault case about halfway through their conversation.

“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.”

Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

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 Dogg and 50 Cent publicly slammed King, though Snoop later walked back coarse language that had been perceived as a threat.

King first addressed the backlash in an Instagram video on Thursday, saying she was “mortified” and “embarrassed” but explained that the clip was posted without her knowledge and “totally taken out of context.”

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.”