Gayle King Puts Dem Friendships Over Journalism

'Even at the expense of my job, I would never betray a friendship'

Gayle King and Cory Booker / Getty Images
June 11, 2019

CBS This Morning host Gayle King said in a new interview she would never betray one of her famous friendships even if she learned valuable information.

King is best friends with Oprah Winfrey, has vacationed with Barack and Michelle Obama, and is so close to Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) that she joked on the air in 2012 that "no boinking" had occurred.

In a gushing profile in the Washington Post style section, writer Robin Givhan noted King's high-profile connections, writing, "Do you say to your friend: Don’t tell me newsworthy information if you don’t want it in the news. Or do you say: Whatever you tell me will be off the record. Is each story, each revelation, a negotiation?"

King replied she knew ahead of time Booker would run for president, for instance, but wouldn't use the information for a scoop.

"I knew Cory was going to run [for president] but I would never have said that before he announced it," King said. "Even at the expense of my job, I would never betray a friendship."

The Post reported:

She attended private events in the Obama White House. She didn’t brag about being there and refused to disclose who else was. "I do think that I’m entitled to a private life," King says, "even though I may have some very public friends."

But if you breathe the rarefied air of fame, it’s in your system. And so even if she doesn’t betray confidences, King still has access to valuable context.

"Sometimes, we’re reporting on something, I can go, ‘Well, that’s just not true. That’s just not true.’ And we can’t report it that way."

King, who joined the show in 2012, has donated thousands of dollars to Democrats.

Despite that blurring of the lines, CBS has decided to rebuild CBS This Morning around her. She received widespread praise for her handling of an interview this year with singer R. Kelly, remaining calm when he stood up and screamed with anger over questions about sexual abuse charges against him.

CBS kept King on but moved John Dickerson to 60 Minutes and Norah O'Donnell to the anchor chair for CBS Evening News. They were replaced by Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil.

The Washington Post touted King as the "biggest star in TV news," but the show routinely finishes third in the morning show ratings behind ABC's Good Morning America and Today, both in the 25-to-54 demographic and in total viewers.