CBS This Morning co-anchor Gayle King appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday to discuss her much-praised interview with R. Kelly.
King says she visited Kelly at his home in Trump Tower Chicago 15 minutes before the interview to ensure a smooth transition into filming. "I didn't want... for the first time to sit with him, you know what it's like, 'lights, camera, action...' I didn't want it to be like that... I wanted to at least say 'hello.'"
She also discussed the viral photo of her sitting calmly while Kelly rages. "When I see Robert getting really upset and he stands out of his seat, my initial reaction is 'Oh God, please don't leave...' So I thought if I just sit there quietly looking at him, he would know I'm not going anywhere and I'll just wait for you to finish whatever this is, and then you'll sit back down in the seat. And he did that." King also noted that she didn't feel threatened by any intentional physical danger from Kelly, but was concerned he might accidentally hit her.
The most emotional segment shared from King's interview so far was her discussion with Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary, Kelly's "girlfriends." King had previously revealed that Kelly was present in the room during the taping and coughed during difficult questions, and she told Colbert her thoughts on the "heartbreaking" situation. "We don't know how the R. Kelly story is going to end, we really don't. But what I do know is that those girls are going to need their [families] sooner rather than later."
King said she expected "some level of... contrition" from R. Kelly, and was "troubled" by his behavior in the interview. "It became really troubling for me to see him just fall apart... I thought we were witnessing the self-destruction of a man having a breakdown, and that's never a good thing. Never."
As much as the R. Kelly case has consumed the public's interest, the question of separating the classic art from the artist's alleged crimes has generated fervent discussion. King weighed in with her thoughts on the Michael Jackson fallout as well: "For me, it's hard to separate it now... These are different times, and we are hearing it now with different ears... Now, when you see the people come out, and they're talking the way that they're talking, you can't unhear that. You can decide whether or not you want to hear it or not, but you can't unhear it."
King's full-hour interview with Kelly airs on CBS Friday, March 8 at 8 p.m.
Thumbnail photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images