“CBS This Morning” anchor Gayle King is winning high praise for maintaining her composure after R&B star R. Kelly stood up, shouted and gesticulated wildly during an emotional interview that aired Wednesday following his arrest on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
“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,” director Ava DuVernay said on Twitter. “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.”
“R Kelly isn’t even talking to Gayle so much as he’s talking to the camera. He wants this interview to be another performance. He wasn’t ready for Gayle’s stellar and unflappable style,” added civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson.
“This is wild. @GayleKing is again teaching a master’s class in interviewing. She remains so calm and focused while @rkelly loses it,” said PBS White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor.
In the interview, Kelly emotionally pleaded his innocence as he awaits trial on felony sexual abuse charges. “Quit playin’. I didn’t do this stuff. This is not me,” Kelly said, staring directly into the camera. “I’m fighting for my f—ing life.”
Kelly then stood up and began berating interviewer Gayle King as she remained seated, unfazed by the outburst and calming addressing him as “Robert.”
“You all are killing me with this s—,” Kelly screamed. “Thirty years of my career and you are all trying to kill me. You’re killing me, man. This is not about music. I am trying to have a relationship with my kids and I can’t do it. You all just don’t want to believe the truth. You don’t want to believe it.”
The situation became so unstable that King and Kelly’s publicist were forced to pause the interview to allow the musician to compose himself. He later apologized for being so “emotional.”
“You sound like you’re playing the victim here, you do,” King said.
“I’m just telling the truth,” he responded.
Kelly is next scheduled to appear in court on March 22.