“Morning Joe” co-host Willie Geist offered his effusive praise to CBS News’ Gayle King on Wednesday, telling the network’s late-night host Stephen Colbert that interview subjects like R. Kelly were why he carried around a “taser” before big sit-downs.
“All hail Gayle. Right?” Geist said. “Interviews like that are why I carry a small taser with me at all times. You sometimes gotta have to get up and neutralize the threat a little bit.”
Geist went on to say that the image of King sitting unaffected as Kelly stood and berated her was destined to become “iconic.”
Geist was far from alone in his praise for King, who is in fact a network rival. Even over on Fox News, host Jesse Watters praised her performance despite confusing King with “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts. (He later apologized).
On Wednesday, King owned the news cycle both for conducting a highly-charged interview with the musician who is facing multiple charges of felony sexual abuse and for maintaining her composure during the most emotional moments.
At one point, Kelly stood and berated King while she sat motionless. “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.”
On Twitter, many of King’s industry colleagues and other high profile influencers agree with Geist and Watters’ assessments
“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.”
“This is wild. @GayleKing is again teaching a master’s class in interviewing. She remains so calm and focused while @rkelly loses it,” added PBS White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor.