These are scary times! And if you’re fiercely adamant about voicing your truth, even if it deviates from the general consensus of social media idols, you may have to carefully weigh the pros and cons.
I am prepared to express how I feel about the two weeks of brutal coverage of the Kobe Bryant tragedy that culminated in the disastrous CBS exclusive interview, staged by staple anchor and Oprah’s bestie, Gayle King, and featuring Bryant’s longtime friend, and former basketball pro, Lisa Leslie.
Before the ill-fated conversation dominated the cultural landscape, Kobe Bryant was already being openly roasted by online detractors, who were relentless about shaming the growing crowd of mourners, publicly paying tribute to an iconic sportsman, who more than earned that honor.
The political reporter from The Washington Post set it all off with the aggressive circulation of an article that contained analysis about the 2004 rape case that was ultimately dismissed.
Her brand of journalism was startling brutish, when you consider that the breaking news of the fatal helicopter crash that killed nine people, including the pilot was still unfolding.
We knew the basketball star had perished, but chaos ensued with premature hashtags for misidentified celebs, and the terrifying unsubstantiated rumor that all four of Bryant’s daughters were onboard the doomed aircraft.
Regardless of how you feel about Bryant’s innocence or guilt in a resurrected controversy, as humans with beating hearts, we must agree that timing is everything. Which means that rehashing the worst item on a very long list of noteworthy moments attributed to a notable figure, who has just been declared dead, has to be categorized as inhumane.
The days after the horrific accident that also took the life of 13-year-old Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, including two of her basketball team mates, the activated narrative around the unfathomable tragedy was supremely targeted at the rape case.
The woman who callously initiated this violent storm of contemptuous debris, righteously succeeded in extolling the villainous traits of a heralded hero, who despite his immeasurable achievements and proven maturity during his final years, ending up succumbing to the attacks that he couldn’t counter.
The argument is that in these instances, not even the shockingly violent passing of a group of victims, and the deepened sorrow of surviving loved ones can interfere with unresolved rage, that inspires the unyielding quest to forcefully demand retribution from a deadened source.
All the while, a wife and mother is coming to terms with the frightening reality of a dead husband and child. The other families directly affected by the crash, also have to figure out the maze of immediate trauma, that will hover for the rest of their lives.
Meanwhile, social media platforms like Twitter are ablaze with real-time debates about the endearing audacity of a rapist, who was actually never charged, but we know for sure that he’s guilty and was able to pay his way out of consequences, while his victim was bullied into a shitty outcome.
And before we know it, CBS gives Gayle King another opportunity of a lifetime. She gets to sit down with former basketball pro Lisa Leslie, and probe her about the “uncomfortable” stuff that has to be presented because of the daunting task of a first-class journalist, who is never afraid to be dutifully ornery.
The viral clip that CBS disgustingly unleashed for obvious reasons, contained the unsightly packaging of the dominant topic of discussion, that sadly eclipsed the actual horror of Kobe Bryant’s untimely demise, that extended to the beloved daughter, who was poised to skillfully follow in the footsteps of her legendary father.
The accompanied uproar was fast and furious, as a growing number of naysayers, armed with the wealth of high visibility took to their respective platforms, and dished out the harsh warning on behalf of a grieving family, in the middle of nightmarish duties, involving funeral arrangements, and the like.
Snoop Dogg’s execution was overloaded with unappetizing ingredients that unfortunately dissolved the overall message. He made legitimate points, but the added threats, predictably escalated the increasing hostility. He has since released a much calmer follow up, that continues to re-affirm his commitment to the wellbeing of the Bryant Family.
As the noise grew louder, King swiftly took to her platforms, and deposited her response to the mess she helped to create. A lot of us were stunned beyond belief at the way she defiantly crossed the line, without an ounce of empathy for the wounded friend of the person she was ordered to kill all over again.
CBS was blamed for dubiously releasing the section of the interview that was sure to ruffle enough feathers to warrant epic views. You can’t garner award-winning traffic numbers and ratings if you hide the best part of an offering, that will thrive from the worst minutes of an interview, slyly orchestrated to showcase the abhorrent tendencies of a so-called major news network.
Days later, the disgraceful incident grew into a national catastrophe, as Oprah paid a visit to a popular morning TV show, and tearfully described the precarious status of her beloved friend, who was receiving death threats as a result of the intense backlash, stemming from the journalistic endeavor, that not only didn’t pay off, but left more unanswered questions.
Why did Gayle King take the transparent bait of a white-owned media giant, instead of commandeering the tone of the segment to demonstrate her prowess as a seasoned talent, who always leads with instinctual humaneness?
How could she have assumed that her distasteful line of questioning, that was aimed at wickedly entrapping her gracious guest, would be inexplicably lauded and endorsed by a community that recognizes the signs of systemic traitorousness?
Why was she unable to effectively tackle the “elephant in the room’’ with the acute awareness of all parties involved, and the sensitivity that can’t be traded for heartless banter?
Of course, King shouldn’t be subjected to life-threatening settings because that’s not the appropriate course of action, and in all honesty, it distracts from the fundamentals of this harrowing ordeal.
Kobe Bryant’s tragic death alongside his daughter is an unprecedented incident, that’s bad enough to warrant a shield of reverence around the coverage, from the standpoint of what it means for a father and daughter to die together in the most brutal of circumstances.
The bereaved loved ones who are caught up in the web of unexpected loss, have been punished further by the scathing menace of the media-at-large. This normalized lawlessness that knows no bounds will now be the standard treatment for celebrities, who have to bear the brunt of visible haters before they are placed in coffins.
This isn’t about the bravery of raising “uncomfortable” topics for the sake of diligently illustrating your allegiance to the movements in motion. It’s not about the willingness to get down and dirty, by mercilessly dragging mourners into a fresher hell.
CBS and Gayle King need to issue a formal apology to Vanessa Bryant and the surviving relatives of her late husband for the abominable role of exacting more pain and suffering in ways that are unrecoverable.
Basic human decency has to remain a viable currency without the challenge of a monstrous takeover by well-positioned trolls, who hide behind the misleading respectability of diabolic brands.
There is a time and place for everything, and that includes the insertion and reinforcement of a scandal that we have forever to dive into with the affair of experts and testimonies, after the formalities of the dead are completed.
Vanessa Bryant, her three remaining daughters, and immediate family reportedly buried her Kobe and Gianna last Friday during a private ceremony, that was right in the thick of the newly-minted dispute over the damning interview that CBS staunchly defends without shame.
The pursuit of truth and justice is a journalist code of conduct, but not when it compromises the characteristics that make us human in situations that desperately require that necessary identification.
It’s really that simple.