Viewers have praised the composure of CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King after she spoke with R&B singer and accused sexual predator R. Kelly, who shouted and towered over King in his first televised interview since facing new charges of sex abuse against underage girls.
Clips of the interview, which aired in full in the US overnight, show Kelly plead his innocence and assert his accusers have fabricated their allegations.
When King asked if he had ever slept with underage girls – an accusation that has been levelled many times against Kelly during his decades-long career, including in a 2008 child pornography trial which ended in Kelly’s controversial acquittal – the singer stood from his chair and directly addressed the camera.
“I’m fighting for my fucking life. You’re killing me with this shit,” Kelly said.
“I gave you thirty years of my fucking career,” he said, as King attempted to diffuse the situation.
“And y’all trying to kill me? You killing me, man! This is not about music! I’m trying to have a relationship with my kids! And I can’t do it,” Kelly added.
After taking a minute for Kelly to regain his composure, King tried to rein the situation in.
“Robert, we have to have a conversation, really. I don’t want you just ranting at the camera,” King said.
As Kelly suggested the reason he has faced so many accusations is because “my heart is so big, people betray me”, King said “you sound like you’re playing the victim here.”
“Stop it. You all quit playing! Quit playing! I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me! I’m fighting for my f***ing life! Y’all killing me with this sh*t!” @RKelly told @GayleKing, standing up. “I gave you 30 years of my f***ing career!”https://t.co/u4AENVJQsc pic.twitter.com/jLF7l8etYh
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) March 6, 2019
King’s response to Kelly’s overt physicality was noticed by viewers, who commented on her ability to press Kelly on the serious allegations levelled against him while not permitting him to simply address the audience.
Photos posted on King’s Instagram account were also singled out as demonstrative of the conversation.
This shot of Gayle King and R. Kelly is one of the most powerful photos I’ve ever seen. Her composure. His rage. It speaks so loudly on so many levels. pic.twitter.com/NZI5y6T5Ph
— Dave Quinn (@NineDaves) March 6, 2019
Gayle King’s perfect ‘bitch, please’ poise & calm while R Kelly has a temper tantrum is my new #bodylanguagegoal
#rkellyinterview #rkelly pic.twitter.com/4BWEevi7Mp
— Avi (@Rantaramic) March 6, 2019
While I applaud Gayle King’s composure, imagine being a young teenage girl trying to stand up to this height and this rage. pic.twitter.com/W3poiDqzfM
— Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) March 6, 2019
This is wild. @GayleKing is again teaching a master’s class in interviewing. She remains so calm and focused while @rkelly loses it. https://t.co/8IUtssouzt
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 6, 2019
There’s a lot going on in these R. Kelly clips. But one thing that jumps out is how direct, super clear and no frills these questions are by @GayleKing. She’s asking exactly what most of us would ask if we were in her seat. Crazy how refreshing it is. Speaks to how rare it is. https://t.co/Pt0ISn32sM
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 6, 2019
Kelly has also been scrutinised by former BuzzFeed News editor Marisa Carroll, who disputed his allegation the CBS interview was the first time he’d been permitted to discuss the allegations against him with the media.
Kelly was charged with ten counts of aggravated sexual abuse against four victims last month. Three of them were listed as underage at the time of his alleged offending. He plead not guilty, and his next court appearance is slated for March 22.