Who’s To Blame?

Ronald Jackson

On Sunday January 26, 2020, I was sitting in the sanctuary in-between morning and evening services when I received an alert from celebrity news outlet TMZ that NBA Hall of Famer, and Academy Award winner Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash. The sports and entertainment world had immediately been hit with the worst news of the new year that he, his daughter, and others were killed. The world sent reeling in the devastating loss and the networks were immediately scrambling for breaking stories about the legend and his impact on the world in sports and life off the court.


CBS tapped Gayle King to interview WNBA legend and close friend Lisa Leslie about his life and legacy of the recently passed superstar. Gayle asked Lisa about Kobe’s 2004 dismissed rape case and if his legacy will be complicated for her as a woman and as a WNBA player due to this case, which was dismissed and settled. Lisa replied that “Kobe is not that kind of guy that would violate or be aggressive to a woman.” Gayle continued in that vein asking more questions about in an attempt to smear her knowledge of him and that she wouldn’t know if he was violent or had violent tendencies.  She continued with if it is a fair question for the media to continue talking about it after he is now gone or is it going to be a part of his history, to which Lisa refuted her questioning.


CBS decided to advertise the most salacious part of the interview with Gayle asking Lisa about the rape case, to which received major backlash from celebrities and fans of Kobe. Gayle received threats from Snoop Dogg, rebukes from 50 Cent and others through social media. Gayle shifted the blame to CBS, citing she’s receiving death threats, and cannot come outside. Her best friend Oprah came to her defense and shifted the blame to those responsible for threatening her friend and turning the narrative to Gayle being a reporter doing her job and asking the questions.


Such an interesting narrative… So who’s to blame? Kobe, Gayle, Snoop, CBS, or Black Twitter?


Kobe Bryant’s case was dismissed and he admitted that what he thought happened was not her perspective, he apologized, and she refused to testify and the case was dismissed. We will never know all of his side of the story as dead men tell no tales. So, his story dies with him and it’s too late to ask.


Gayle King’s timeliness in the line of questioning about his dismissed case was ill advised and insensitive. The man nor his daughter or any of the passengers had not even been buried in addition to his family even had the time to lament his or Gigi’s death. In retrospect, perhaps she might have waited to ask this line of questions after the family had time to heal. The questions lacked respect for own daughters nor for his wife in asking Lisa about his case. Gayle had years to ask him personally about his legacy and about the case directly.


Gayle King is unique in her position as one of the three black women who anchor a morning news show. She has the responsibility to represent the black perspective whether she likes it or not. She has the ability to interview whomever she wants, whenever she wants. Her opinions reach millions of households daily. She is representative of the black people and she has a responsibility to the black community to tell our stories with pride and integrity. Black men are often vilified on the media, and our women are hypersexualized 24/7/365, and she has the option to change our narrative. She is accountable for obtaining the black perspective and reporting it fairly. It is extremely difficult to sit where she sits, and this is a difficult ask of anyone in her position, but heavy is the head that wears the crown.


Snoop Dogg recanted and apologized for his NSFW rant and threats toward Gayle insisting he would never threaten someone’s life and his threat that we might come for you was taken out of context. In today’s “Cancel Culture” it is a possibility he was meaning that she will get cancelled in that respect? Not sure. Was he still reeling from the loss of his friend and the emotions and the video indicative of how angry he was in the moment he saw the clip? Definitely. He as everyone else does have an opinion, but as an entertainer and social media influencer whose songs and lyrics have probably been the soundtrack to many black on black homicides, and sexual assaults, he may want to better reel in his emotions before voicing his own rebukes.


As a major news outlet, CBS has to garner ratings by any means necessary. They seized on the capability to give people who were close to him as friends and colleagues the opportunity to share stories about their friend. I have worked in television and have firsthand experience on how the narrative will spin to get the best response, be it positive and negative, which the latter seems to get more ratings. They have the money and the lawyers to power through any backlash from whatever they decide to air.


I like social media as one of my guilty pleasures. It is a platform to connect with people you would normally not speak to daily. Movements like #ADOS #MeToo and #BlackTwitter have united people into a single based collective, if you’re not socially correct, they will unapologetically come for you with memes, GIF’s and hilarious commentary. It can get ugly if you’re not culturally appropriate as in the case of Gayle King. These social media subcultures have become the representative consensus of the collective. Had they been too harsh on Ms. King? Perhaps so.


I believe that there has to be a level of accountability and responsibility and decorum across ALL parties involved; CBS for ratings seeking, Gayle King for her lack of compassion for the bereaved, and social media subcultures for hiding behind a platform to issue threats. We need to do better as across the board in understanding a human’s journey, my grandmother advised me that people in glass houses should not throw stones. In short it means life is fragile, you may bring yourself down in your attempt to bring someone else down.