As Gayle King returned to work on Monday, celebrities and journalists rallied around her. The CBS This Morning anchor has become one of the most important figures on the network over the past few years, but last week she faced backlash and death threats after asking WNBA star Lisa Leslie about the rape allegation made against Kobe Bryant in the early 2000s. As King returns to work this week, members of the entertainment and media worlds have tweeted their support with the hashtag #IStandWithGayle.
On Monday morning, MSNBC political analyst and Move On chief public affairs officer Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted a video of herself responding to the controversy on Morning Joe. “When you are a black woman in this country, you feel threatened, and many times people don't stand up for you,” she wrote.
Living Single and Black Lightning actress Erika Alexander wrote, “2 b clear #IStandWithGayle it’s not all right to threaten @GayleKing or anybody bcause u don’t agree w them. The comments & videos being played r not ok. But It’s not 2 late to make a different choice. So make a different choice. Xo. #lovetakesaction @standwithblackwomen.” Kathy Griffin, meanwhile, retweeted Jean-Pierre, writing, “Agree. I will always stand up for you. And I fearlessly and proudly say #IStandWithGayle.” Others to use the hashtag have included Mia Farrow and CBS’s executive vice president of special programming and Late Show executive producer Chris Licht.
As backlash erupted, King blamed a clip “taken out of context.” Soon after, King’s friend Oprah Winfrey said, “She is not doing well. May I say, she is not doing well because she now has death threats and has to now travel with security. She’s feeling very much attacked.” Stars including Snoop Dogg and Bill Cosby have criticized and, in the former’s case, threatened King over her interview—causing some of King’s supporters to react in real time. For instance, in responding to Snoop Dogg, former ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice tweeted, “This is despicable. Gayle King is one of the most principled, fair and tough journalists alive. Snoop, back the **** off. You come for @GayleKing, you come against an army. You will lose, and it won’t be pretty.”