By the time VH1 personality Snoop Dogg apologized late Wednesday for his vicious and obscene attack on CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King—apparently under pressure from his corporate overlords at the freshly merged ViacomCBS—the damage was all but irreversible.
For almost a week—and even as this is written—ViacomCBS chairman Shari Redstone and the publicly traded company’s chief executive, Bob Bakish, have remained chillingly silent as the disturbing spectacle of one of their franchise stars publicly threatening another played out in the national media circus.
“Funky dog-head bitch! How dare you try to tarnish my motherfuckin’ homeboy’s reputation!” Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. (Snoop’s real name) assailed King in an Instagram video for asking a perfectly fair question about the late Kobe Bryant’s rape case during a wide-ranging interview with Bryant’s friend, WNBA star Lisa Leslie. “Punk motherfucker! Respect the family and back off, bitch, before we come get you!”
Faced with Broadus’s outburst, ViacomCBS’ C-suite leaders are displaying all the moral backbone, along with desperate devotion to the bottom line, of the Republican senators who blocked any and all witnesses at Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Their spokespeople didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
Domestic diva Martha Stewart, the rapper’s co-star on ViacomCBS subsidiary VH1, likewise has declined to criticize his verbal abuse—“rooted,” as Daily Beast entertainment writer Cassie Da Costa pointed out, “in misogynistic conspiracy theory directed specifically against black women who refuse to make it their life’s work to defend black men at any cost.”
“Snoop speaks for himself. Read his comments,” Stewart dodged when questioned by Extra at Vanity Fair’s Oscar party. Stewart’s PR rep also ignored a phone message from The Daily Beast.
Indeed, as former Missouri senator Claire McCaskill noted on Wednesday’s installment of MSNBC’s Morning Joe—hours before the apology—there has been zero consequence for Broadus, who appeared as usual Wednesday night on VH1’s Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Party Challenge while the 65-year-old King and her two adult children were reportedly being forced to live with security details because of an avalanche of death threats.
“Name one person in entertainment doing talk shows who would post something like this,” Mika Brzezinski demanded, “that wouldn’t be fired in three seconds.”
Brzezinski, among others, didn’t buy Broadus’s attempt to obfuscate his video threats on King in a subsequent Instagram video in which he assured viewers, “I’m a nonviolent person,” and, in Trumpian fashion, claimed that he didn’t say what the previous video clearly documented.
“When I look like I want some harm to come to a 70-year-old woman, I was raised way better than that,” Broadus argued, gallantly adding five years to King’s age. “I don’t want no harm to come to her and didn’t threaten her. All I did was say check it out. You outta pocket for what you’re doing and we’re watching you.”
To her credit, CBS News President Susan Zirinsky—apparently alone among the top executives at ViacomCBS—did weigh in publicly about Broadus’s attack on her star anchor, telling the Associated Press: “We fully support Gayle King and her integrity as a journalist. We find the threats against her or any journalist doing their job reprehensible.”
Zirinsky’s stout defense of King—small recompense, perhaps, for the news division’s mistake in releasing the provocative interview snippet as an excerpt without context—came a day after King’s BFF Oprah Winfrey confided to the Today show’s Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager that her friend is “not doing well” and “now has death threats and has to now travel with security.”
Broadus seems to be receiving more credit than probably is due for his late-breaking about-face, in which he finally “man[ned]-up,” as he put it, and apologized “for the language that I used and calling you [King] out of your name and for being disrespectful,” while admitting that he “overreacted” and “should have handled it way differently.”
On Instagram, Broadus credited “my momma”—by which he presumably didn’t mean Shari Redstone—for his abrupt change of heart. On her ABC daytime show Thursday, meanwhile, Tamron Hall effusively praised Broadus for “apologiz[ing] bravely.”
“I’m sure this is still very raw for Gayle,” Joe Scarborough said on Thursday’s installment of Morning Joe. “She’s been through hell over the past week. I know she has to be disillusioned by people she thought were friends who sat by and said absolutely nothing.”
Scarborough spoke of a “complete dereliction of duty” not only by ViacomCBS but also “by opinion writers, by media figures, by leaders both black and white, who have refused to step forward and speak truth to power.”
On Wednesday’s Morning Joe, PBS NewsHour’s White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor put it most painfully: “I’ve been watching this as someone who really admires Gayle and have been quite frankly horrified for her and quite frankly horrified as an African-American woman… I think to watch her be attacked in the way that she was attacked and to watch the silence that has happened has been heartbreaking.”
Heartbreaking, yet hardly surprising.