Oprah Winfrey Says Gayle King Has Received Death Threats Over Kobe Bryant: 'She's Not Doing Well'

Gayle King was absent from her co-host post on CBS This Morning on Friday after facing immense backlash over an interview clip questioning the late Kobe Bryant's sexual assault charge. The clip was shared on the news program's Twitter earlier in the week.

King's best friend and former talk show host Oprah Winfrey appeared on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna on Friday and revealed King was "not doing well" in the aftermath of the outrage. Holding back tears, Winfrey said attacks against King had become life-threatening.

"She's not doing well because she has now threats and has to now travel with security, and she's feeling very much attacked," Winfrey said when daytime show host Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager asked her about the status of her friend.

"She's not doing well and feels that she was put in a really terrible position because that interview had already ran [sic]. And in the context of that interview, everyone seemed fine, including Lisa Leslie, and it was only because somebody at the network put up that clip," Winfrey continued.

.@Oprah emotionally responds to backlash her friend Gayle King received over King’s recent interview about Kobe Bryant with WNBA legend Lisa Leslie: “She is not doing well because she has now death threats.” pic.twitter.com/M8HrCp8vTr

— TODAY with Hoda & Jenna (@HodaAndJenna) February 7, 2020

The network on Wednesday shared a clip of an interview King conducted with WNBA star Lisa Leslie during which King appeared to press Leslie to comment on Bryant's "complicated" legacy. She was referring to the athlete's 2003 sexual assault case. NBA champion Bryant was killed in a helicopter accident in late January along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others.

The interview clip sparked immediate outrage from Bryant friends, followers and fans. A number of celebrities also took to social media to blast King for the insensitive line of questioning.

While speaking with Kotb and Hager, Winfrey said she understood "how people would obviously be very upset if you thought that Gayle was just trying to press to get an answer from Lisa Leslie." However, Winfrey was disapproving of the personal and vicious attacks her longtime friend received in response to the video clip.

"I think anybody can criticize anything, but the misogynist vitriol and the attacking to the point where it is dangerous to be in the streets alone—because it's not just the people who are attacking, it's the other people who take that message and feel like they can do whatever they want to because of it," Winfrey said.

King addressed the controversy on her own social media account Thursday, explaining that the clip was from an interview that previously aired on CBS and expressed disappointment in the network for sharing a clip that could be so easily taken out of context. "I've been up reading the comments about the interview I did with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant, and I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I'd be extremely angry with me too," King said in an Instagram video.

Oprah Winfrey Says Gayle King Has Received Death Threats
Gayle King attends O, The Oprah Magazine's O You! Event at Los Angeles Convention Center on October 20, 2012, in Los Angeles, California. Oprah Winfrey said King has received death threats after a clip surfaced online of her asking Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant's sexual assault charges. Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

"I am mortified. I am embarrassed and I am very angry," she continued. "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. It's jarring to me. I didn't even know anything about it."

CBS released a statement on Thursday defending King.

"Gayle conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview with Lisa Leslie about the legacy of Kobe Bryant. An excerpt was posted that did not reflect the nature and tone of the full interview. We are addressing the internal process that led to this and changes have already been made," the statement read.