CBS News head calls threats against Gayle King reprehensible

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2019 Invision

FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2019 file photo, Gayle King attends the 2019 Women's Media Awards, hosted by The Women's Media Center, at the Mandarin Oriental New York in New York. King is facing death threats following a social media backlash caused by an interview with retired WNBA star Lisa Leslie that concerned the late Kobe Bryant. (Photo by Christopher Smith/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The CBS News chief called threats against journalist Gayle King “reprehensible” Saturday as backlash grew against rapper Snoop Dogg and others critical of King for an interview where she asked about a sexual assault charge against the late Kobe Bryant.

Snoop Dogg issued a warning to King online this week following her interview with WNBA player Lisa Leslie about Bryant, the former Los Angeles Lakers star killed in a helicopter crash with his young daughter and seven others on Jan. 26.

“We fully support Gayle King and her integrity as a journalist,” CBS News President Susan Zirinsky told The Associated Press. “We find the threats against her or any journalist doing their job reprehensible.”

CBS would not discuss the nature of any private threats against King. Her friend, Oprah Winfrey, said in an NBC interview that King had received death threats and was traveling with security.

The rapper had joined with others, including LeBron James, 50 Cent and even Bill Cosby, in criticizing King for asking Leslie whether Bryant's legacy had been complicated by the accusation that he raped a woman at a Colorado resort in 2003. Bryant said the two had consensual sex, but he later apologized for his behavior and settled a civil suit against him.

In a profane video posted on Instagram and shared on other social media platforms, Snoop Dogg criticized King for attacking “your people." He told her to “back off ... before we come get you."

King's questions had attracted little notice as part of a wide-ranging interview shown on “CBS This Morning.” But then CBS — mistakenly, it said later — posted a video online that focused strictly on the discussion about the assault case.

“The interview with Lisa Leslie was comprehensive and thoughtful,” Zirinsky said. “We are a country where differences of opinion are welcome, but hateful and dangerous threats are completely unacceptable.”