(NewsNation Now) — Gayle King, legendary journalist and host of “CBS This Morning,” reflected on her tense interview with singer and songwriter R. Kelly.
King said she had watched previous interviews with Kelly where he would become angry and would ultimately leave the interview.
The interview with King, which aired a couple of weeks after his initial arrest on sex abuse charges, became immediately infamous for Kelly’s demeanor. The singer ranted, cried and shouted at King, who remained stoic even as he leapt up in anger: “Robert, we have to have a conversation,” she said. “I don’t want you just ranting at the camera.”
King believes she would have been more shaken by Kelly’s behavior earlier in her career.
“I would have been very rattled by it,” she said. “But I was I felt very well prepared. I also knew that I wasn’t done with the interview, I still had more questions for Mr. Kelly.”
King thinks that if she responded to Kelly the way he reacted to her or tried to “comfort” or tried to “soothe” him, the interview would have been over.
“I just thought, let me make no sudden moves. Look up, look down, look up, look down. I was looking at him and looking at the chair, looking at him, looking at the chair … letting him know that whatever you’re doing here, I’m not going anywhere,” King said.
Despite his anger, King said she never felt that she was in danger, but wondered if she might accidentally get hit.
“I didn’t think he was coming at me. He was mad. And with every word, he was emphasizing every word with his fist,” King said. “I thought he could accidentally hit me, which would have hurt. I was a little nervous about that. But I didn’t think that he would ever intentionally hit me.”
King reached out to Kelly and his team the following day and said they were appreciative of the opportunity to tell his side.
Some viewers speculated Kelly’s anger was manufactured and that he may have been “playing” King, as she said. She doesn’t believe that was the case.
“In my opinion, [R. Kelly] became unglued in that moment. People said, ‘Oh, he was acting, he was playing you.’ I didn’t feel that at all.”