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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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Texas Students Created Snapchat Group To ‘Slave Trade’ Black Classmates

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  • Freshmen at a Texas high school set up a Snapchat group to pretend to sell their Black classmates. 
  • A screenshot showed the group name being changed from “Slave Trade” with emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer to “[racial slur] Farm” and then “[racial slur] Auction.”
  • That image also shows a person saying they would spend $100 on a peer while a second student said they would spend $1 on another, adding “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
  • The school faced backlash for initially describing it as “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment,” without acknowledging the racism. The district later issued a stronger condemnation and said the students were disciplined but did not list specific consequences.

Racist Snapchat Group

Aledo high school students at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus in Northern Texas are making headlines for setting up a Snapchat group to pretend to sell their Black classmates. 

A screenshot reviewed by several local news outlets showed the group name being changed from “Slave Trade” with emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer to “[racial slur] Farm” and then “[racial slur] Auction.”

That image also shows a person saying they would spend $100 on a peer. A second student said they would spend $1 on another, adding “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”

Screenshot of group chat message via KXAS

At least one student who was mentioned as being “sold” in the chats was later sent screenshots of the conversations.

According to a report from the Star-Telegram reported last week, when the issue was brought to Principal Carolyn Ansley, she sent parents an email that didn’t mention the Snapchat group but only cited “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment.”

That caused frustrations because parents felt the issue of racism wasn’t being addressed or acknowledged.

Mark Grubbs, a father of three former students, told KXAS he was sickened by the students’ actions. Grubbs, who is Black, also said he had taken his children out of the district over other racist incidents in the past.

“My son being called out of his name and what not and it got to the point he didn’t mind fighting and that didn’t sit right with me and my wife. My son was never a fighter,” he said.

District Responds

After the incident garnered media attention, the Aledo Independent School District issued a statement.

The district said it learned of the incident more than two weeks ago and started an investigation that involved law enforcement.

“There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period,” it added. “Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.”

District officials spoke with the students responsible as well as their parents, saying they “made it clear that statements and conduct that targets a student because of his or her race is not only prohibited but also has a profound impact on the victims.”

The district also said it assigned disciplinary consequences, though it did not explicitly state what those consequences were or state how many students were involved.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ABC) (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

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What You Need To Know About the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause

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  • The CDC and the FDA have issued a joint recommendation to pause distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine amid reports that six women experienced “extremely rare” blood clots after receiving the single-dose shot.
  • The vast majority of the 6.8 million Americans who were given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have reported minor to no side effects, and no direct link has been established between the vaccine and blood clots at this time. 
  • The two agencies are expected to release updated guidance in the coming days.
  • Several states and cities are now automatically giving the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to people who were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week. 

CDC and FDA Recommend J&J Vaccine Halt

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, released a statement Tuesday recommending a pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

So far, 6.8 million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, most with zero or only mild side effects.

The updated guidance comes after six women, all between the ages of 18 to 48, experienced what both agencies described as “extremely rare” blood clots six to 13 days after being vaccinated. One of those women has died and another is in critical condition.

Neither the CDC nor the FDA has confirmed that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the cause of these blood clots; rather, they said this guidance comes “out of an abundance of caution.”

That’s also in line with Johnson & Johnson itself, which said it’s aware of the reports but added that “no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events.” As a precaution, Johnson & Johnson has also now delayed the rollout of its vaccine in Europe. 

What Happens From Here?

Principal Deputy Director of the CDC Anne Schuchat said further recommendations will come quickly.

FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock echoed that statement, saying, “We expect it to be a matter of days for this pause.”

Wednesday, a CDC committee will convene to discuss the cases and assess their potential significance.

When asked if the government was overreacting to just six cases out of nearly 7 million vaccinations (a criticism made by some online), Schuchat said the CDC pulled its recommendation specifically because the type of blood clots seen in these 6 women requires special treatment, so “it was of the utmost importance to us to get the word out.”

In the meantime, both agencies are urging Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients to contact their doctors if they experience any combination of severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath. 

What If I Had A J&J Appointment?

Both agencies, as well as other health officials, are still urging unvaccinated people to take the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines when available in their area.

The White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator has said that 28 million doses of those vaccines will be made available this week. Notably, that’s more than enough for the country to continue giving 3 million shots a day. 

If you had an appointment scheduled to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you’re likely not completely out of luck.

For example, while D.C. vaccination sites are canceling all Johnson & Johnson appointments between Tuesday and this Saturday, the health department there has said it’ll send out invitations on Wednesday to reschedule.

Similar situations were reported in Virginia and Maryland, though some vaccination sites in Maryland are still honoring existing appointments by automatically giving people Pfizer instead. That’s also a process that is now being conducted in places like New York State and Memphis.

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (NBC News) (The Washington Post)

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Minnesota Protests Continue for a Second Night Over Police Killing of Daunte Wright

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  • Protests continued in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on Monday over the death of Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot by a police officer who allegedly thought she was using her Taser.
  • Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators violating the 7 p.m. curfew, as well as others who threw projectiles back at the officers. Several incidents of looting were reported, though law enforcement officials said they were minimal.
  • That same evening, police officials identified the officer involved in Wright’s death as Kimberly Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force, prompting many experts to flag numerous reasons an officer with her experience should have known not to confuse her weapon with a stun gun.
  • Wright tendered her resignation on Tuesday, as did Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon.

Second Night of Demonstrations 

Demonstrators clashed with police for the second night in a row Monday after an officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Much like protests the day before, the events reportedly started out peaceful, with hundreds attending a vigil on the street where Wright was killed. Hundreds more gathered outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department.

The situation started to escalate after 7 p.m. when the curfew instituted across all four Twin City metro-area countries went into effect. According to reports, police began to warn people that they were in violation of the curfew, and shortly before 8 p.m., officers began firing rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash grenades. 

Some protesters reportedly retaliated by throwing water bottles, fireworks, and other projectiles. Later, police in riot gear pushed groups of demonstrators who had regrouped away from the police station.

Looters also broke into several businesses at a strip mall close by, including a Dollar Tree, where flames were reportedly later spotted, though law enforcement officials described the looting as limited.

During a press briefing just after midnight, officials said that 40 people had been arrested at the Brooklyn Center protest.

Officer Identified

Late Monday, state officials identified the officer who fatally shot Wright as Kimberly Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force. BCPD Chief Tim Gannon had previously said that the officer, who he refused to name, had intended to use her Taser, but accidentally used her gun.

Many social media users and experts questioned how someone with 26 years of experience could mix up a Taser and a gun, including one retired sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department, who told The New York Times, “If you train enough, you should be able to tell.” 

The Times also noted that it is not common for officers to mix up their Tasers and guns, that most police forces — including BCPD — use a variety of protocols to prevent this from happening

Tasers are usually designed with specific features to distinguish them from guns, such as bright color-coating and different styles of grips. According to The Times, the BCPD manual cites three different pistol models as standard-issue, all three of which “weigh significantly more than a typical Taser.”

Those pistols also have a trigger safety that can be felt when touching them, while the Tasers do not. The outlet additionally noted that BCPD protocol requires officers to wear guns on their dominant sides and Tasers on the opposite to prevent exactly this kind of confusion.

Beyond that, Potter’s actions may have violated department policy even if she had used her Taser because the manual says it should not be used on people “whose position or activity may result in collateral injury,” including those “operating vehicles.” 

It also says that officers should make “reasonable efforts” to avoid using the stun gun on people in the “head, neck, chest and groin,” but Wright was shot in the chest. 

On Tuesday afternoon, it was reported that Potter and Chief Gannon have resigned from the force. The resignations come after Brooklyn Center leaders dismissed the city manager, a decision that could potentially give Mayor Mike Elliot the ability to fire the chief or officers in the department.

The resignations also come amid reports that Potter had been involved in another police-involved shooting in 2019, where she had been “admonished by investigators for allegedly attempting to conceal evidence after a police shooting that left a 21-year-old autistic man dead,” according to The Daily Beast.

Misinformation Spreads

As more information comes out surrounding the traffic stop that led to Wright’s death, several pieces of misinformation have also continued to spread on social media.

Most of the false information centers around the warrant for Wrights’ arrest that prompted police to attempt to detain him.

According to reports, court records show that a judge issued the warrant earlier this month after he missed a court appearance for two misdemeanor charges he was facing from last June for carrying a pistol without a permit and running from officers. 

Notably, Wright does have a number of past charges filed against him, including two for attempted sale of Marijuana and aggravated robbery. Despite claims by many social media users, those charges were for separate incidents, and the warrant was specifically for failing to appear in court for the June charge.

There has also been a viral video circulating Twitter and TikTok claiming court records show that the hearing notification was sent to the wrong address, seemingly in reference to a piece of mail that had failed to be delivered in his court records.

The mail, however, was actually for a different case and is not connected to the notification for the hearing he missed. While that video is incorrect and county officials maintain that they did send him notification, Wright’s public defender, Arthur Martinez, told reporters his client had never received the notice and that the court had not informed him either.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Minneapolis Star Tribune) (The Daily Beast)

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