Accused of dominating and manipulating dozens of women, R. Kelly defended himself on CBS This Morning by interrupting, talking over, and talking past Gayle King. When the reporter asked the singer whether he imprisoned women, he exploded, “I don’t need to—why would I?” His hands shot to his temples as his voice climbed. “How stupid would I be to do that? That’s stupid, guys!”
Guys—with that, Kelly was no longer addressing the person in front of him. “Is this camera on me?” he asked, pointing. “Use your common sense. Forget how you feel about me!” King tried to regain his attention by repeating, mantralike, Kelly’s first name, Robert. It didn’t work. Kelly teared up, stood up, and screamed: “I gave you 30 years of my fucking career! … You killing me, man!” Kelly’s publicist eventually came over and hovered, unsure of how to intervene. King remained sitting.
The performance at first had an air of stand-up comedy: Kelly mockingly straightened his jacket as he scoffed at the idea that he one day decided “I just think I have to be a monster.” But by the time he was up and spitting, he’d taken on the tenor of a child having a tantrum, or Brett Kavanaugh yelling at his confirmation hearing.
“Stop it. You all quit playing! Quit playing! I didn't do this stuff! This is not me! I'm fighting for my f***ing life! Y'all killing me with this sh*t!" @RKelly told @GayleKing, standing up. "I gave you 30 years of my f***ing career!"https://t.co/u4AENVJQsc pic.twitter.com/jLF7l8etYh— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) March 6, 2019
The 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse that police charged Kelly with in February involve four women, including three who were allegedly underage at the time. Lifetime’s documentary Surviving R. Kelly, which aired in January, featured dozens of sources—alleged victims, their family members, and Kelly’s former business associates—who say Kelly seduced young women and then basically held them as sex slaves. A lawsuit by a former girlfriend was settled in 1998, four years after he secretly married the then-15-year-old singer Aaliyah, and a jury acquitted Kelly of allegations of child pornography in 2008. Kelly has always denied the assertions against him.