Watching R. Kelly's sit-down with Gayle King on CBS This Morning was intense. Thanks to teasers and some photos King posted last night on her own Instagram, I knew going in that Kelly would, at some point, lose his temper. But seeing it all play out was more terrifying than I expected. I can only imagine how it must have felt for the women who have been brave enough to come forward and share their stories about alleged sexual abuse on his part, or for any other survivors for that matter.
Kelly, in his first interview since the airing of the Surviving R. Kellydocumentary series on Lifetime, categorically denied all the allegations against him. "I'm very tired of all of the lies," he said when King asked why he agreed to talk to her. "I've been hearing things, and you know, and seeing things on the blogs, and you know, you know, I'm just tired." When she named the women who participated in the documentary, he replied, "They are lying on me," a phrase he repeated multiple times.
According to Kelly, his accusers (and the world, it would seem) are conspiring against him and making up stories for their own gain. "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," he says, "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."
Sharing your deepest pain with the world in the name of justice has never, to my mind, seemed self-serving. And while it will be up to the courts to decide whether Kelly will face legal punishment this time around (he was previously acquitted on child pornography charges and is currently facing10 new charges of sexual abuse), the evidence in the court of public opinion is damning.
Kelly, by talking to King, must have thought he would somehow be able to change that. When he eventually blew up in anger and frustration, I recoiled. Thoughts of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings also came to mind, another moment when we saw a man scream and rage and cry in order to try to make his point. Like the women of the Senate Judiciary Committee, King remained steadfast and tough in her questioning. Even what he was saying sounded familiar: "I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me! I'm fighting for my fucking life! Y'all killing me with this shit! I gave y’all 30 years of my fucking career!" He believes he has been "assassinated" and "buried alive" …