Gayle King, host of CBS This Morning, stared down R. Kelly as he loomed above her—ranting and shouting—during an interview about the numerous abuse accusations leveled against him.
King maintained her composure throughout, telling the R&B star to his face that his account lacked credibility.
The veteran interviewer posted an Instagram shot of Kelly towering over her during the interview as he shouted “You don’t want to believe this!”
King, who called Kelly by his first name, Robert, during the interview, asked the singer, “I am surprised that you agreed to do it. Why are you sitting down with us today?”
He explained that he had been “assassinated” and that he wanted to clear up the lies about him.
“What are the lies that you’re hearing that disturb you most?”
“Oh my God,” Kelly responded, fighting back tears. “Um... all of them, got little girls trapped in the basement… helicopters over my house trying to rescue someone that doesn’t need rescuing because they’re not in my house.”
“Handcuffing people, starving people,” he added. “I have a harem, what you call it—a cult. I don’t even really know what a cult is. But I know I don’t have one.”
King pressed Kelly, who was beyond defensive, asking him if he had ever had sex with anyone who was under the age of 17. When Kelly denied it, she pressed him further, telling him “it’s so hard to believe that.”
At times, Kelly was out of control with King, who was trying to take back the reins of the interview by repeating his name over and over.
“I don’t want you just ranting at the camera,” King said.
“I came here for them to hear me talk. I need help!” Kelly countered.
“What kind of help?” King asked him, trying to calm him down.
“This is the kind of help I need. I need somebody to help me not have a big heart, because my heart is so big. People betray me, and I keep forgiving ’em!”
Not missing a beat, King responded: “You sound like you’re playing the victim here. You sound like, R. Kelly—you do. I listen to you and it does sound like you’re playing the victim card.”
“I’m just telling the truth,” he said. “I’m just telling the truth. And the reason I’m emotional—and I apologize for that..”
Throughout the 80-minute interview, Kelly wavered between tears and tirades. At one point, shaking his finger at her, he said “I’m going to tell you something, Gayle,” before she interrupted him and repeated, “What women said about you..”
King kept her composure throughout, trying at times effortlessly to keep him on message. “So they are lying on you? That’s your explanation, they are lying on you?”
Kelly put his head in his hands and repeated. “Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely.”
“And they want to tear you down?” King asked. “What makes you so special that they think ‘You know what, I’m going to lie on R. Kelly’—What makes you so special that they want to tell a lie about you?”
“Or,” she asked again, rephrasing the question. “What makes you so unlikable that they would want to tell a lie on you?”
Kelly, visibly agitated, responded, “I’m not unlikable. The problem is that I’m likable.” Then he went on to explain that the reason these women have come forward now is because “things didn’t work out, and if things don’t work you...”
King will run a separate interview Friday with Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, who currently live with Kelly. Savage’s parents have accused the singer of “kidnapping” their daughter and keeping her in a sex cult against her will.
King confronted Kelly with the accusations. “These aren’t old rumors,” she said.
“Not true. Whether they’re old rumors, new rumors, future rumors, not true,” Kelly pleaded.
“Correct me if I’m wrong that you’ve never held anybody against their will?” King pressed.
“I don’t need to. Why would I? How stupid would it be for R. Kelly, with all I’ve been through in my way, way past, to hold somebody, let alone 4, 5, 6, 50, you said—how stupid would I be to do that?”
Kelly was acquitted of child-pornography charges in 2002 and similar charges of making child pornography were dropped in 2004. “You can’t double-jeopardy me like that,” he said. “You can’t. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to nobody. When you beat your case, you beat your case.”
King then calmed Kelly down. People are seen rubbing his shoulders. “Have you done anything that you regret, have you done anything wrong?” she asked.
“Lots of things wrong when it comes to women that I apologized, but I apologized in those relationships at the time that I was in the relationships, OK?” he said.
“Why would these women say the same thing about you?” King pressed. “That you are controlling, that you are abusive, that you tell women when to eat, when to go to the bathroom, when they can sleep, where they can dress?”
“Right. Right. Until you hear the explanation. You can start a rumor on a guy like me or a celebrity just like that,” Kelly said. “All you have to do is push a button on your phone and say so and so did this to me, R. Kelly did this to me, and if you get any traction from that, if you’re able to write a book from that, if you’re able to get a reality show… then any girl that I had a relationship in the past that it just didn’t work out, she can come and say the same exact thing.”