The South Carolina debate took place Tuesday night, airing on CBS News, ahead of the state’s primary on Saturday. And while there is much criticism surrounding the lack of control the moderators were able to administer throughout the evening, a specific spotlight was placed on Gayle King, as folks asserted that her presence on the moderator panel was questionable considering her non-political journalistic background, which was displayed during her performance during the debate. And as many assessed King’s moderating and deemed her not suitable for a debate, with some likening her approach to that of a TV talk show host, others had a different stance, suggesting that perhaps her performance is “karma,” for her “CBS This Morning” interview with Lisa Leslie, where she revisited Kobe Bryant’s rape allegations shortly after his passing.
Moderator Norah O’Donnell of “CBS Evening News” has been subjected to harsh words for her moderating during the debate as well, as both she and King struggled to command order, which resulted in a yelling match among the seven candidates, but it appears that King is at the forefront of the conversation.
“Hey, Gayle King, stay out of future debates. You acted like tonight was a talk show and didn’t even listen to responses to questions you fired. Biden didn’t even get the chance to answer the second part of your last question,” one Twitter user said.
Another person wrote, “Gayle King thinks she’s hosting CBS This Morning. The moderation is overall just terrible. @CBSNews should not host anymore debates this election cycle.”
King was particularly criticized for cutting candidates off while speaking, specifically former Vice President Joe Biden, whom she exchanged words with after he grew frustrated from constantly being interrupted. “I guess the only way to do this is jump in and speak twice as long as you should,” Biden said as former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg went on a lengthy spiel suggesting about Senator Bernie Sanders cost the Democrats the House majority.
King later asked the seven candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Buttigieg, Sen. Sanders, Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, to adhere to the time limit, to which Biden replied, “Good idea.” King then responded, “Good idea, right, Mr. Vice President? I promise, Mr. Vice President, we are going to get to you today.”
The back and forth continued.
Biden said, “You keep promising me that, but you haven’t done it yet,” and King responded, “I’ve never broken a promise.”
King was also criticized for cutting Biden off at the halfway mark to go to a commercial break saying, “Alright, thank you Vice President Biden, we will get back to you.”
On the other hand, while many folks suggested that this be King’s last time moderating a debate because of her inability to impose order, others pointed to her debate performance being karma from her viral and controversial interview with Lisa Leslie, where she asked if the late Kobe Bryant’s rape allegations complicated his legacy.
The interview resulted in much backlash, especially from Snoop Dogg, who, while attacking King, demanded that she respect Bryant’s legacy and his family.
Despite their recent olive branch exchange, followed by apologies indicating that all is forgiven, unfortunate controversies appear to have been on King’s heels as of late.