While it had already been long proven that Gayle King was no journalistic slouch, her interviewing prowess got a significant boost Wednesday morning after her exclusive face-to-face sit-down with singer R. Kelly.
The disgraced singer launched an animated and emotional series of implausible denials for what has apparently become mounting evidence of child sexual abuse against him. All the while, King just sat there as a stoic model of grace and calmness, not letting on for one second that she, like probably most of the world, didn’t believe a single word of that was coming out of his mouth.
It no doubt was tough for King, a Black woman, to sit there straight-faced and ask Kelly questions about his alleged criminal behavior toward Black women and girls. One of many moments in the bombshell interview that perfectly exemplified King’s even-tempered approach came when Kelly demonstrably became upset when confronted with the names of his accusers.
“I didn’t do this stuff!” Kelly implored while beating on his chest to hammer home a point that probably fell on millions of deaf ears. “This is not me! I’m fighting for my fucking life!”
It was at that point Kelly started swinging wildly with his arms, stood up to do some more swinging — think Cuba Gooding Jr. talking to Nia Long in “Boyz N Da Hood” after a confrontation with a dirty cop — along with stomping, screaming and, of course, sniveling.
In the midst of this amazing display of possibly (probably?) rehearsed histrionics, a lone voice of sanity could be heard above the fray.
“Robert?” King says softly.
“Thirty years of my career!” Kelly screamed hysterically, arms still swinging, clearly ignoring King’s hint that he was wilding out. “And y’all try to kill me!”
After a few more uncomfortable seconds of Kelly trying to somehow redirect the conversation to be about his relationship with his own children, King can be heard on a voiceover saying, “At this point, we briefly pause the interview to give Kelly a moment.”
Watch the madness unfold below.
It was a masterful display in broadcast journalism interviewing techniques 101, and hopefully, all aspiring TV journalists who were watching took notes.
But if you’re just now catching up, none of these journalistic accolades are new for King, who notably won a coveted Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for her coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. She’s also been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. In short, she’s extremely qualified and competent.
Still, Wednesday’s interview with Kelly – just the third the singer has ever done centered on his reputation for being a child sex predator – may have pushed her into contention for being one of the best TV interviewers ever.
That list of interviewees boasts an impressive roster that includes Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who delivered a mea culpa for lying about and then admitting he wore blackface; President Barack Obama; Michelle Obama; former NFL star Ray Rice and his wife; Tina Turner; and even Paul Ryan.
Scroll down to see King’s impressive style of interviewing applied to them, as well.