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Gayle King Criticized for Kobe Bryant Rape Case Interview Question

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  • Gayle King of CBS This Morning is facing harsh criticism after including a question about Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case in her interview with former WNBA player Lisa Leslie.
  • Among the backlash was an explicit video from rapper Snoop Dogg, who addressed King directly and told her she was “way out of pocket.” 
  • On Thursday, King posted a video of herself on her social channels, expressing anger at CBS for including the clip in a way that was “out of context.” 
  • She said that she intended no disrespect to the late basketball legend.

Controversial Interview Question

CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King said she is “very angry” with her own network for posting a clip of her discussing Kobe Bryant’s rape case less than two weeks after the basketball star’s death — a move that has resulted in harsh criticism for the TV personality. 

The clip was from King’s interview with Lisa Leslie, a former WNBA player and long-time friend of Bryant’s. CBS This Morning posted parts of the interview on their social channels on Feb. 5. In addition to discussions on Kobe’s influence and daughter, King posed a controversial question.

“It’s been said that his legacy is complicated because of [the] sexual assault charge which was dismissed in 2003, 2004,” she said. “Is it complicated for you as a woman, as a WNBA player?” 

“It’s not complicated for me at all,” Leslie replied.

“I just have never seen him being the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That’s just not the person that I know,” Leslie added. 

King did not end the dialogue there.

“But Lisa, you wouldn’t see it though. As his friend, you wouldn’t see it,” King said. 

“And that’s possible,” Leslie conceded. “I just don’t believe that. And I’m not saying things didn’t happen. I just don’t believe that things didn’t happen with force.”

In her follow-up question, King acknowledged the sensitivity and mixed feelings on the matter in the wake of the NBA legend’s passing.

“Is it even a fair question to talk about it, considering he’s no longer with us and that it was resolved, or is it really part of his history?” the host asked Leslie.

“I think that the media should be more respectful at this time,” Leslie said. “It’s like, if you had questions about it, you had many years to ask him that. I don’t think it’s something that we should keep hanging over his legacy.”

Bryant faced a sexual assault accusation in 2003 from a 19-year-old hotel employee. The case was moved to court but was dropped in 2004 when the accuser refused to testify. The accuser later filed a civil suit, which Bryant settled outside of court. Since his death, the case has been brought up several times and prompted hostile reactions from some who believe it is inappropriate to discuss at this time. 

Backlash

King faced reactions akin to these herself when the CBS interview was made public. One of the most prominent people to call her out was 48-year-old rapper Snoop Dogg, who dedicated an explicit Instagram video to the matter. 

“Gayle King,” he said in the post. “Out of pocket for that s***. Way out of pocket. What do you gain from that?” 

He then seemed to imply that King was setting a racially-charged double standard by asking those questions about Bryant and not somebody like Harvey Weinstein. 

“We expect more from you Gayle. Don’t you hang out with Oprah? Why you all attacking us? We your people,” Snoop Dogg said. “You ain’t coming after f****** Harvey Weinstein asking them dumb ass questions.” 

Snoop Dogg ended his video by cussing out the TV personality.

“How dare you try to torch my motherf**** homeboy’s reputation, punk motherf*****,” he said to the camera. “Respect the family and back off, b****, before we come get you.” 

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Similar criticisms of King were posted across the internet. “Very disappointed that you would bring this up at this difficult time Gayle…Very distasteful,” someone wrote in a comment on the CBS video.

“If you weren’t bold enough to ask Kobe while he was still here, don’t do it when he’s no longer here to speak on it and defend himself,” another said. “This is so distasteful and disrespectful! Props to Leslie for defending Kobe’s character.”

Tweets directed at her were just as unforgiving. 

“I hate to say it but I’m not surprised by Gayle King pushing the Kobe Bryant accusation,” one user wrote. “She is Oprah’s minion and this is what these 2 do….go after black men – even more so if they have died and can’t defend themselves.”

King’s Response

On Thursday morning, in the wake of the backlash, King posted a video on her social channels explaining her perspective on the Lisa Leslie interview and the controversial question she asked. 

She expressed her disappointment in the way the clips were cut and framed.

“I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I’d be extremely angry with me too. I am mortified, I am embarrassed, and I am very angry,” King said. “Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview, totally taken out of context, and when you see it that way it’s very jarring.”

King went on to say that she had been advised to say nothing and let the controversy blow over, but that was not “good enough for [her].” She described the interview as “wide-ranging,” and said they discussed many topics, including Kobe’s career, passion, sense of humor, and role as a mentor, among other things.

“And yes we talked about that court case because that court case has also come up,” King said. “And I wanted to get Lisa’s take on it as a friend who knew him well.” 

King said she thought it was “very powerful” when Leslie told her that it was time for the media to leave discussions of Bryant’s sexual assault allegations alone. She added that she “insisted” that part of the interview be included in the final cut because she thought that “it put a nice button on that part of the conversation.” 

She added that she believes Leslie was okay with the interview as a whole, and went on to condemn CBS once again.

“So for the network to take the most salacious part when taken out of context and put it up online for people who didn’t see the whole interview is very upsetting to me and that’s something I’m going to have to deal with with them. And there will be a very intense discussion about that,” she said.

She concluded her posts by talking about her encounters with Bryant and the kindness she experienced from him. 

“I too am mourning his loss just like everybody else,” she said. “I still am shocked by it. It’s tragic and untimely and the last thing I would want to do is disparage him at this particular time. I hope people understand that.”

“No disrespect intended,” she added. 

Despite King’s explainer videos, she still received hate from people online. Many still maintained the opinion that the question was wrong to ask at all just after his death.

“You’ve had enough time to ask that question when Kobe retired,” one user wrote. “Respect the family. It’s a time and place for everything. Kobe and his daughter haven’t been put to rest yet and you are still asking that question. Do better.” 

“Damage control. You wouldn’t have to make this video this morning if you would have never asked to begin with,” another said.

See what others are saying: (USA Today) (Los Angeles Times) (NBC)

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Florida Cracks Down on “Vaccine Tourism”

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  • Florida is now requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • The state has been hit with “vaccine tourism” as many people, predominantly wealthy individuals, fly to the state from other parts of the U.S. and abroad just to get the shot. 
  • So far, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses administered in Florida went to out-of-staters, though it is unclear if all those people were tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.

Florida Requires Proof of Residency

Florida is cracking down on “vaccine tourism” and requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get a COVID-19 shot.

Previously the state was allowing anyone 65 and older, including non-residents, to get the vaccine. This resulted in people flying to the Sunshine State from across the U.S. and abroad just for the purpose of receiving it. 

According to state data, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses Florida has administered have gone to out-of-staters. It is unclear if all these out-of-staters are tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents. 

Now, people must show a form of identification like a driver’s license or mortgage payment to receive it. Exceptions will be made for healthcare workers. 

Vaccine Supply Continues to Be Limited

Wealthy people in particular were quick to schedule travel plans to Florida for this reason. According to the Wall Street Journal, there was an influx of Canadians booking private jets to Florida. Some were looking to book flights there and back on the same day, leaving just enough time for them to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, people in Florida and across the country are waiting in long lines and struggling to book appointments on glitching websites to get their shots. Vaccine supply continues to be incredibly limited and not everyone in high-risk groups have received them.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said this rule is not made to impact snowbirds, people who live in Florida during the winter to escape cold weather up north. 

“They go to doctors here or whatever, that’s fine, DeSantis said, according to CNN. “What we don’t want is tourists, foreigners. We want to put seniors first, but we obviously want to put people that live here first in line.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (CNN) (Travel + Leisure)

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Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”

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  • Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
  • Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
  • Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.

Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017. 

Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony. 

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”

Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.

“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”

What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”

Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing. 

“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.  

That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”

“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”

Nation Impressed by Gorman

“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.” 

Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment. 

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”

Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration. 

Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation. 

Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day. 

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)

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SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section

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  • The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June. 
  • The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
  • Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary. 
  • It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.

College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay

College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.

Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”

The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary. 

While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S. 

Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.

With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.

The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test

In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.

In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.

According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.

For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)

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