Note: Since the time of writing, Snoop Dogg's original video that appeared to threaten Gayle King has been removed from his Instagram feed. The other posts mentioned remain intact.
Gayle King has received a lot of backlash following her interview with Lisa Leslie—the former WNBA Center and Kobe Bryant's close friend.
King has been attacked for a clip taken from the interview in which she asked Leslie to address the 2003 rape allegations against Bryant. While King has defended herself by saying that the clip was taken out of context to make the wide-ranging interview seem far more provocative than it actually was, there are many who find that defense inadequate. Even if you embrace the idea that the events in question have to be acknowledged as part of Bryant's legacy, there is something distasteful about the idea of forcing his close friend to confront the issue so soon after Bryant's tragic death. It's hardly surprising that the clip got so much pushback, but one person, in particular, has taken things way too far.
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Snoop Dogg posted a video to his Instagram account last week with the fairly innocuous text "P.S.A. Let the Family Mourn in Peace." He included the heart and prayer hand emojis before continuing, "#gayleking outta pocket FDHBiiiych." In the video itself, Snoop claims that King is "way outta pocket," which is fair enough. Snoop has made it clear that he has a strong sense of connection to Kobe Bryant, and Gayle King's approach to the interview with Leslie clearly set him off. Where he started to go a little too far was when he clarified what "FDHBiiiych" meant in the text of the post. Apparently, Snoop has coined a new phrase in declaring King a "funky dog-head b*tch."
King's looks obviously have nothing to do with the issue Snoop has with her. Getting emotional and lashing out with personal attacks like that just makes him look petty and misogynistic, but if that were the only problem with the video, it wouldn't really be worth writing about. Unfortunately, things only get worse from there. The venom in his voice builds as he accuses King of trying to torch Bryant's reputation and target him instead of Harvey Weinstein, then he calls her a "punk mother*cker," and concludes with this threat: "respect the family and back off, b*tch before we come get you."
There might not be any real intention of harm behind Snoop's words, but that's not the issue. At the time of writing, the video had about 2.6 million views, and nearly half a million people have indicated that they like it. Any one of those people might take Snoop's words as a sincere call to violence. King has reportedly received numerous death threats since the interview. Is Snoop really on board with that? Evidently not, as he posted a dubious clarification over the weekend, claiming that he "didn't threaten her," that he's "a nonviolent person," and that he "didn't want no harm to come to her," but the original video remains online, and has nearly twice as many views and likes as the follow up. If he genuinely wishes Gayle King no harm, he would have made it clear by deleting the original video, but that post remained up until Monday afternoon.
Snoop also made several other posts before issuing his clarification. And those posts only doubled down on his attack and got into even more disturbing territory. In one such post, invoking Gayle King's close friendship with Oprah Winfrey, Snoop posted a picture of Oprah smiling with Harvey Weinstein, building a case that Oprah and Gayle only criticize black men. The accompanying text attacks Oprah for her coverage of accusations against Michael Jackson by "lying ass kids," and refers to Weinstein as a "known rapist," though the image predates the public revelation of Weinstein's (alleged) pattern of horrifying sexual violence. Oprah has been such a prominent part of American media for so long that it's easy to find images of her smiling with almost any iconic celebrity—including Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and Bill Cosby… Cosby, in particular, is worth mentioning because of the way Snoop chose to close his post: "F*ck u and Gayle. Free Bill Cosby."
There is room for a conversation about a solitary rape allegation that was settled out of court. While the failure of the justice system to convict perpetrators of sexual violence is well-documented, adherents of the "innocent until proven guilty" mantra can make a case against dredging up one seemingly anomalous incident—even if Bryant's own apology acknowledged wrongdoing. But Bill Cosby is another case entirely.
60 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, and almost all of the incidents they described included the common element of Cosby using drugs and alcohol to facilitate his crimes. In 2018 he was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Bill Cosby should not be free.
It's understandable that people don't want to throw out the legacy of one of the first black men to gain mainstream acceptance in America—and Cosby's work as a comedian and an actor was hugely important to generations of Americans of all races. He was America's Dad. But all the while, he was abusing and victimizing women. His continued denial of guilt does not hold up under the weight of the consistent pattern that the accusations against him illustrate.
Bill Cosby was found guilty because he's guilty. Those who continue to defend him are implicitly attacking his victims and the credibility of victims of sexual assault generally. Bill Cosby and his advocates continue to erase the voices of his accusers—many of whom are black women—with claims that his prosecution was motivated by racism. Snoop fed into that narrative, and Bill Cosby was all too eager to jump on a new opportunity to defend himself in a tweet to Snoop, claiming that "successful Black Women are being used to tarnish the image and legacy of successful Black Men." Cosby followed up with a series of hashtags including #ThankYouSnoopDogg, and Snoop made another Instagram post in response, saying, "Love u uncle bill."
That is so far from acceptable. This is not "uncle Bill." This is not Cliff Huxtable. This is not even the man who told clean jokes about going to the dentist and criticized the vulgarity and "anti-woman messages" in music like Snoop's. Bill Cosby wore his public respectability as a shield against scrutiny and suspicion while operating as a zealous sexual predator for decades. You can not fight racism by erasing the voices and experiences of black women.
Cosby accusers reacting to his guilty verdict
More than 800,000 people have liked Snoop's "uncle bill" post, proving that there is still a big audience for denying Bill Cosby's guilt. All the more reason why Snoop needs to delete these posts. Whether he intended to threaten Gayle King when he insisted that she "back off… before we come get you," by defending Bill Cosby, he is implicitly endorsing violence against women and discrediting whatever point he wanted to make about King's interview with Lisa Leslie.
In his retraction video, Snoop closed with the claim that "We speak from the heart. Some of you who have no heart don't understand that." If he really wants to prove he has a heart, he can't only support black men—he needs to support and listen to black women, and he needs to delete these posts.