During the past week or so, I’ve taken notice of the controversy surrounding CBS television personality Gayle King’s interview of Lisa Lesley, former Women’s National Basketball Association player. The interview was on the legacy of the late basketball great Kobe Bryant, who, along with his daughter and seven other people, died in a helicopter crash nine days before the interview. The interview was not prominent in the mainstream media. However, it took a portion of the social media by storm. Since I have been a huge basketball fan for most of my life, and am familiar with the cast of characters, I took an interest in the saga.
For those who may not be familiar with the story, let me give you a brief synopsis. During Gayle's wide-ranging interview with Lisa concerning Kobe’s legacy, she asked her several questions about the sexual assault accusations made against Kobe Bryant seventeen years ago. She asked, among other things, if those accusations should in any way affect Kobe’s legacy. Gayle's employer took that segment of the interview and used the video in its social media campaign to promote the conversation. Shortly after the video clip aired, Gayle was the object of a social media backlash that was brutal and arguably misogynistic. Several people interpreted the words used by those who participated in the reprisals as a threat to the interviewer’s physical safety.
Most of the people who took part in the backlash severely criticized Gayle for asking what many consider insensitive questions. At the time of the interview, Kobe, his daughter, and the others who died had not had their memorial services. Kobe's wife and other daughters were in intense mourning. Kobe fans and acquaintances were highly upset. Then there was the backlash to the backlash. Even a former high- ranking government official weighed in and made veiled threats against one of the main criticizers of the reporter.
Now, I wasn't going to weigh in on this chain of events, since only an in-depth analysis could give it a just explanation. There are lots of complexities within what appears to be an isolated incident. The many layers to this story include race, gender, psychology, and a troubling part of America's history of race relations, to name a few. An entire dissertation could be researched and written based on that isolated clip and the uproar that followed its promotion. However, I want to zero in on one topic: values. From a journalistic perspective, the interviewer had the right to ask the questions that led to the uproar. Similarly, the network could post whatever portion of the interview it thought would help lead to more viewers of the program. However, simply because one can do something does not mean one should do it.
The values on which the network based its decision to air that video clip were materialistic ones. The purpose of sensationalized promotions are to garner as many viewers as possible to see such interviews. More viewers mean more revenue from advertisers and thus more money in the coffers of the network. While I can’t begin to guess the reasons why Gayle King asked the problematic questions, they no doubt increased the sensational nature of the interview, which potentially captures more attention of the viewing public. As the saying goes in the news business, “If it bleeds, it leads.” However, such decisions, like the interview concerning Kobe Bryant, are made at the expense of human decency and even spiritual values.
If we are to live in a society that is governed by the better angels of our nature and not strict materiality or the profit motive only, we must have a revolution of values. When we do, we will express and live out the highest and best of who we are as spiritual beings.
Peace and Blessings,