If R. Kelly was looking for ways to improve his rapidly deteriorating public profile, he just failed spectacularly.
Rather than portraying himself in any kind of sympathetic or remorseful light during a visit to CBS This Morning, the embattled R&B singer (and alleged sexual predator) left viewers with the soon-to-be-infamous image of himself furiously looming over interviewer Gayle King as she stares at him, utterly unfazed.
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) March 6, 2019
After years of loud rumors, an acquittal, and quiet settlements, R. Kelly was finally arrested in February and charged with 10 counts of criminal sexual abuse. Now awaiting another new trial–Kelly is intimately acquainted with the inside of a courtroom–the singer was invited onto CBS This Morning to tell his side of the story. Unwisely, he said yes.
“I am surprised that you agreed to do it,” King says to Kelly. “Why are you sitting down with us today?”
His response–“I have been assassinated”–sets the syllabus for the interview. Kelly wants to spread the gospel that he is not only an innocent man, but a victim. Although he doesn’t quite use the familiar parlance of this particular era, he might as well say “witch hunt” and “fake news,” since that’s basically his defense. Unfortunately, one thing that doesn’t make anybody look super-innocent is screaming fits of victim-blaming accompanied by threatening hand gestures.
Here are some of the most bizarre moments from the interview:
- Kelly denies ever having sex with a woman under the age of 17 ever, to which King calmly (and accurately) informs him, “It’s so hard to believe that.” (See: his illegal, later annulled marriage with an underage Aaliyah).
- Kelly does himself no favors by adding: “I don’t look at much younger. I just look at legal.” Oof.
- Kelly states that he needs “help,” but when pressed about therapy, he admits that he has only discussed the prospect of getting therapy.
- “Absolutely,” Kelly expects that his career will survive this legal battle and people will continue to buy his music.
- When King presses Kelly about why women would tell lies about him to the point where he is charged with criminal sexual abuse, Kelly offers this astounding answer: “The problem is that I’m likable.” The implication is that Kelly is, in fact, so likable that when things didn’t work out with certain women, they felt so spurned they decided to make up stories of abuse to exact revenge.
- He later expounds on the incentives women have to tell lies about him: “”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… 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.”
- According to Kelly, Lady Gaga was “unprofessional” when she apologized to the public for collaborating with the singer. Of course, this statement only begs the question of what Kelly considers “professional.”
- Kelly seems to think that getting multiple child pornography charges dropped or getting acquitted of them over the years means he can never be charged for similar crimes again. “You can’t double-jeopardy me like that,” he says. “You can’t. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to nobody. When you beat your case, you beat your case.”
- Finally, there’s the pièce de résistance, the moment R. Kelly escalates to a mega-tantrum on camera, standing up and yelling “I’m fighting for my fucking life!” in King’s face, as she meets him with a calm glare. The way she remains composed and simply says “Robert” over and over while he goes off is a master class in poise. When Gayle King has to say, “I don’t want you just ranting at the camera,” your TV interview was probably a mistake.
“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
Watch the whole interview on CBS’s website now, and look out for King’s interview with Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, who currently live with Kelly, which is expected to air on Friday.