Gayle King gave what many are calling a master class in composure during her interview with R. Kelly, after he was indicted in February, on charges of 10 separate counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and arrested in Chicago. The charges include the singer’s alleged abuse of four women, three of them underage, between 1998 and 2010, and investigations into an alleged sex cult run by the singer have been reopened in Georgia.
King secured the first interview with Kelly since his arrest for CBS This Morning, and shared clips from the filmed conversation on Wednesday morning. The singer repeatedly denied the sexual abuse allegations after King asked him to clarify if he had “never held anybody against their will,” blowing up at both King and the cameras while she remained calm, cool, and collected in her chair. The singer then had to be restrained by his publicist after shouting expletives at the camera and denying the allegations. “Robert, we have to have a conversation. Really, I don’t want you just ranting at the camera,” King told Kelly after his emotional response to one simple question.
When the CBS anchor shared still photographs from her interview with Kelly on Instagram and Twitter, the comments from celebrity supporters rolled in almost immediately. Oprah Winfrey, King’s best friend and frequent collaborator, tweeted her praise for the journalist, commending her “for calm and steady focus,” while Angie Thomas, the author of the bestseller The Hate U Give, commented on King’s composure during Kelly’s meltdown as well, comparing the singer’s disposition to that of a tantrum-throwing toddler.
The filmmaker Ava DuVernay, the journalist Dave Quinn, DeRay McKesson, Shonda Rhimes, and the Time’s Up organizer Tarana Burke echoed the applause from Winfrey and Thomas, citing King’s “stellar and unflappable style” during Kelly’s outburst as inspirational for other journalists and reporters.