First of all, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the families of the tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and 7 other people. The suddenness of his death and the way in which he died has really weighed on me this past couple of weeks. I can’t even begin to imagine what these families are going through. I hesitated writing anything because I wanted to be respectful and I don’t always feel it’s necessary to give my two cents. But then this week the Gayle King interview came out with Lisa Leslie and it’s too much now.
When the news first broke of Kobe’s death, I was notified on Twitter that someone who I work very closely with had retweeted news articles of Kobe’s rape case. For the sake of this post, I am not going to rehash the specifics of that case. Google it. I was disgusted when I read that people were sharing these articles and bringing up the case almost 20 years after the fact. The day that Kobe died was not the correct day to bring this issue back to light.
Last week once Gayle King’s interview with WNBA star Lisa Leslie went public, and she has been mercilessly attacked for her questioning of Lisa Leslie over Kobe’s case. I understand that Gayle is a journalist and it is her job to ask difficult questions. But there is also a thing as responsible journalism and Lisa Leslie is not the correct person to speak on this issue. There are two people who can speak about this case and one of them is deceased and can no longer defend themselves. For some reason, we constantly put the responsibility and the onus on women to defend men when they are accused of inappropriate behavior. Lisa Leslie is not responsible for Kobe’s actions and she can honestly only speak about his actions as her friend.
We treat celebrities as though they are not people. We cannot forget that to so many people they were bigger than life, but to their families, they were their whole life. I don’t condone the severity in the backlash that Gayle has received. No one’s life should be threatened over an interview. But I do think that journalists have a responsibility to be more respectful and understanding of people’s emotions. I hope that Kobe’s family can mourn without all this unnecessary noise in the background. We should all remember how we would want to be treated if this were our loved ones.