Gayle King talks keeping composure during R. Kelly interview on ‘Colbert’
During a visit to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, CBS journalist and interviewer Gayle King recounted the events of her infamous interview with singer R. Kelly, who has been accused of sexual abuse.
After host Stephen Colbert asked if she was concerned for her safety during the interview, King, 64, admitted that while she didn’t believe Kelly would hurt her, she was worried that he might have accidentally hit her during a “violent” outburst that took place while the interview was going on.
In an attempt to defend himself against countless sexual abuse allegations, Kelly, 52, launched into an emotional rant during the interview, blaming social media for his troubles.
The I Believe I Can Fly singer called the accusations “stupid” and proceeded to break down and cry.
“Quit playing,” Kelly exclaimed. “I didn’t do this stuff. This is not me. I’m fighting for my f***ing life!”
The explosive interview went viral after airing on March 8. King has been praised widely for maintaining her composure and professionalism.
Kelly was charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse on Feb. 22. He is accused of abusing four individual women — three of whom were minors at the time of the alleged crimes.
Gayle King attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 24, 2019, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
When asked if she had met Kelly prior to the interview, King revealed that she went to visit the singer 15 minutes before the taping in order to make him “comfortable” and establish “some sort of relationship.”
“He was upset with me about some of the questions,” King said. “He was a little irritated [too]… So when I saw Robert getting really upset and then he stands up out of his seat, my initial reaction was, ‘Oh God, please don’t leave, please don’t leave, please don’t leave.’”
Colbert proceeded to praise King for keeping her cool during Kelly’s unexpected rant.
“Everyone is marvelling — including myself — at your composure in this moment,” he said. “What was going through your mind?”
“Well, Stephen, I thought if we had both got emotional and amped up like that, what good would come of that?” she said. “So I thought I’ll just be calm and say his name because it is soothing.
“I’ll say his name, he’ll know that I’m here and he’ll eventually sit back down. Which he did.“
King also interviewed the girlfriends of Kelly, who have continuously defended him in the wake of the sexual abuse allegations. Kelly sneaked into the room during the taping in order to keep a watchful eye over his partners.
King said she wasn’t afraid of the singer.
“Did I think he was going to hurt me?” she asked. “No, I really didn’t.”
“I never, ever thought that,” she continued. “What I was worried about was that he was flailing [around] and hitting his fists so violently. I was worried that he would accidentally hit me.”
WATCH: R. Kelly says he’s being ‘assassinated’ in explosive new interview
On March 6, Kelly found himself in jail for the second time in two weeks after being unable to pay more than US$161,000 in child support fees to his ex-wife, Andrea Lee.
He was freed from jail after an anonymous person paid his child support bills on Saturday morning.
Before that, Kelly turned himself in after hearing of the sexual abuse charges laid in February. A $1-million bond was set, and the singer was required to pay only 10 per cent in order to be set free.
Kelly pleaded not guilty, and the judge ordered him to have absolutely no contact with any of the alleged victims or any minors. He posted bail and was released from jail two nights later.
The singer has faced numerous sexual assault allegations since 1994, when he reportedly married the late R&B singer Aaliyah — something that Kelly denied even after having the marriage annulled. Aaliyah was only 15 years old at the time. He was 27.
In this handout provided by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, R. Kelly poses for a mugshot photo after being arrested for $161,663 in unpaid child support on March 6, 2019.
It’s been two months since the conclusion of Lifetime’s six-part docuseries Surviving R. Kelly.
The Dream Hampton-produced exposé details the longtime controversy surrounding Kelly and his history of alleged sex crimes against a number of young women.
With more than 50 interviews — including quotes from former collaborators and victims of Kelly’s alleged sex crimes — Hampton hoped to expose as many allegations of predatory tendencies and sexual misconduct levelled against the singer as she could.
Kelly has denied all of these allegations.
The end goal, Hampton said, was for enough victims of his alleged crimes to come forward that an official investigation would be launched by the authorities.
R. Kelly (R) and his attorney Steve Greenberg leave Cook County jail after Kelly posted $100,000 bond on Feb. 25, 2019, in Chicago, Ill.
Saturday Night Live stars Leslie Jones and Kenan Thompson played the roles of King and Kelly, respectively, in last Saturday’s cold open skit, which parodied the viral CBS interview.
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