UPDATED: 9:45 a.m. ET, Oct. 14, 2020 —
Gayle King this week continued her impressive streak of landing coveted interviews that Black America wants to see when she recently sat down with Kenneth Walker, the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor who survived the police shooting that killed her in her own home earlier this year. The interview that aired Tuesday on CBS This Morning was able to tell a human interest story that hadn’t been heard before while managing to break some news at the same time, a notable accomplishment considering the saturation of related media coverage.
Walker told King that during that fateful night of March 13 in Louisville, where police botched the execution of a suspiciously obtained no-knock warrant, cops did not identify themselves. That account directly contradicts an assertion by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron — who never asked a grand jury to consider murder charges for the cops involved — that police did identify themselves as they were kicking the apartment door off the hinges.
Walker said after he and Taylor heard a “loud bang” at the door, they never got a response when they asked who was there.
“You all did ask ‘who is it?'” King asked Walker.
“Several times,” he said while shaking his head. “Both of us. There was no response.”
When King told Walker that police said they identified themselves, he said that wasn’t true.
“If they knocked on the door and said who it was, we would hear them,” Walker said before adding: “I’m a million percent sure that no one identified themselves.”
After police kicked the door in, Walker, suspecting intruders, got his legally licensed gun and shot toward the door, unknowingly striking an officer. He said it was the first time he ever used the gun.
While the conflicting accounts had already been reported, King’s interview was the first time people heard Walker speak about it in detail — details that had not previously been reported.
A snippet of the interview follows below. Scroll down to watch the full interview.
To be sure, King was already no journalistic slouch.
Yes, she received backlash earlier this year for her controversial interview with Lisa Leslie about the life and death of Kobe Bryant; backlash that sparked a chain of events including threats from Snoop Dogg, demands for her to be canceled and even a statement from Bill Cosby, who’s currently serving prison time for a sexual assault conviction.
But that was seemingly an exception to what has all but become a rule for how King keeps landing big interview after big interview.
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!”
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.”
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.