People Are Applauding Gayle King’s Composure in That Explosive R. Kelly Interview
For his first televised interview since new charges of criminal sexual abuse were leveled against him last month, embattled singer R. Kelly sat down with CBS This Morning‘s Gayle King to discuss the allegations. During their talk, he grew increasingly angry, at one point standing and yelling into the camera. Through it all, King remained calm and collected — a feat that has earned her praise from viewers and friends including Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey.
King reportedly spoke with Kelly for 80 minutes, during which time she asked him about his accusers’ allegations of abuse, confinement, and sexual assault of minors. “I’m very tired of all of the lies,” Kelly said of why he agreed to do the interview in the first place. “I’ve been hearing things and, you know, seeing things on the blogs, and you know, you know, I’m just tired.”
Pressed to elaborate on specific charges against him, Kelly became agitated and said his accusers — many of whom were featured in the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly — were lying about him.
“Why would these women say the same thing about you? That you are controlling, that you are abusive, that you tell women when to eat, when to go to the bathroom, when they can sleep, where they can dress?” King asked. “Why would all these women tell these different stories about you if they were not true and they don’t know each other? That defies logic to me.”
Kelly argued that word-of-mouth and social media were to blame. At another point in the interview, he also referred to previous charges brought against him in the early 2000s, saying people were “going back” to his past and “trying to add all of this stuff now to that.” (He was acquitted on charges of child pornography in 2008.)
As King continued to question Kelly about the allegations, and about his insistence that they’re “lies,” the 52-year-old became so worked up that he stood and started shouting. “Stop it,” he yelled. “You all quit playing! Quit playing! I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me! I’m fighting for my f*cking life! Y’all killing me with this sh*t! I gave you 30 years of my f*cking career!”
King remained composed during his outburst, never even raising her voice against his growing agitation. “It wouldn’t have done any good if we both got hysterical,” she told her CBS This Morning co-hosts on Wednesday, when the interview aired.
Viewers watching at home praised her steady demeanor in the face of Kelly’s volatility. “Bravo Gayle King for calm and steady focus during R.Kelly interview,” her longtime friend Oprah Winfrey tweeted. “Outstanding job! Tell CBS This Morning we want to see the whole thing.”
Ava DuVernay also reacted on Twitter, writing: “There’s a lot going on in these R. Kelly clips. But one thing that jumps out is how direct, super clear, and no frills these questions are by @GayleKing. She’s asking exactly what most of us would ask if we were in her seat. Crazy how refreshing it is. Speaks to how rare it is.”
Washington Post writer Kayla Epstein noted the striking image of King, seated and unruffled, next to a standing and clearly agitated Kelly. “As video clips of @GayleKing’s sit down with R. Kelly spread across social media Wednesday, it was this still photo of a professional woman remaining calm in the face of a man losing control that became the most indelible image from the interview,” Epstein wrote.
Atlantic writer Jemele Hill, meanwhile, tweeted that King was a “whole mood.” And other viewers said they aspired to be that unflappable and steadfast.
“Watching @GayleKing here is a master class in poise and determination,” Shonda Rhimes wrote. “She wants answers and is not swayed. I hope these women get justice.”
(Photo via CBS/Lazarus Jean-Baptiste)