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Gayle King holds ‘SoHo Karen’ accountable for her attack on Black teen

Gayle King
Gayle King arrives at the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony in Beverly Hills.
(Jordan Strauss / Invision/Associated Press)

“CBS This Morning” anchor Gayle King wants answers from Miya Ponsetto, the so-called SoHo Karen, who physically assaulted a 14-year-old Black child after falsely accusing him of stealing her cellphone.

“Miya, help me understand,” King began her interview with Ponsetto, part of which aired Friday morning on CBS. “What made you think that Keyon [Harrold Jr.] had your phone? That’s why I’m confused. Why did you think he had it?”

In the viral footage recorded Saturday, 22-year-old Ponsetto yells at Keyon and his father, who repeatedly explain that her phone is not in their possession. Ponsetto, who’s from Piru in eastern Ventura County, then continues to pursue them, ordering the manager of New York City’s Arlo Hotel to seize the phone she falsely claims is hers.

In separate surveillance footage, Ponsetto is seen chasing and tackling Keyon in the hotel lobby. According to the New York Times, the Arlo later informed the Harrolds that Ponsetto retrieved her phone from the hotel that day after it was found by an Uber driver.

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On Thursday, Ponsetto was arrested in Ventura County after the New York Police Department flew detectives to California with a warrant for her arrest.

“I was approaching the people that had been exiting the hotel, because in my mind, anybody exiting is probably ... the one that is trying to steal my phone,” Ponsetto told King.

“I admit, yes, I could have approached the situation differently — or maybe not yelled at him like that and made him feel ... some sort of inferior way and making him feel as if I was, like, hurting his feelings because that’s not my intention. I consider myself to be super sweet. I really never ever meant for it to, like, hurt him or his father.”

When King asked whether she interrogated “everybody in the lobby,” Ponsetto said, “Um, not everyone” and clarified that she spoke to some people “to do my part” while the hotel manager was reviewing the security footage. King also challenged the “super sweet” characterization, arguing that Ponsetto’s actions were “very extreme” and don’t paint her as “someone who’s super sweet.”

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A woman who wrongly accused a Black teenager of stealing her phone and then tackled him at a New York hotel has been arrested in Southern California.

“How would you feel,” Ponsetto countered, “if you were alone in New York ... and you lose the one thing that gets stolen from you that has all the access to the only way that you’re able to get back home?”

Again, King pushed back.

“I just don’t think I would randomly attack people in the manner in which you did,” King said. “When you look at that video, you’re standing there in your leggings and your flip-flops, and it looks like you’re just going nuts, for lack of a better word.”

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Referring to herself as a “girl” throughout the remainder of the interview, Ponsetto apologized “sincerely, from the bottom of my heart” before accusing Keyon’s father of assaulting her (“It looked like you had just attacked his son,” King said). Ponsetto also suggested that she attacked Keyon only by “yelling at him.”

Miya Ponsetto
A booking photo of Miya Ponsetto.
(Ventura County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

“Yes, OK, I apologize,” she said. “Can we move on?”

When King continued to press her, contending, “You are old enough to know better,” Ponsetto cut her off.

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“Alright, Gayle! Enough,” she barked, making a downward gesture with her hand as her lawyer whispered, “Stop, stop.”

Reflecting on the exchange with her co-anchors, King noted that Ponsetto repeatedly ignored advice from her lawyer during the interview — including a tip to remove her black baseball cap, which had “Daddy” written on it.

Miya Ponsetto, the “SoHo Karen” who faces four felony charges connected to an alleged assault, insisted on wearing a “Daddy” cap for Gayle King interview.

“It was an interesting afternoon,” King said, adding: “It’s a very sad story, though. I think there’s something sad about her and ... the trauma that she put this 14-year-old teenager through. That’s not OK.”

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In a statement provided to “CBS This Morning,” the parents of Keyon said: “This is not about an apology from someone who until a few days ago was claiming she did nothing wrong, and in fact alleged Keyon Harrold Sr. had assaulted her. Someone who targeted a 14-year-old Black child because of the color of his skin.”

A clip of the interview, posted Friday on Twitter by “CBS This Morning,” drew sharp criticism from several who condemned Ponsetto as “dangerous,” “disrespectful,” “entitled” and a “violent racist.”

“Here lies the privilege of ‘SoHo Karen’ as she wears a ‘daddy’ hat to a national television interview with Gayle King and cuts her off with a hand up and ‘enough’ while calling herself a ‘sweet girl,’” tweeted Arianna Davis, the digital director of O, the Oprah Magazine.

“Note how the 22 yr old woman called herself a ‘girl’ and the 14 yr old Black boy a ‘man’ ... intentionally positioning herself as blameless/a victim and taking away the teen’s boyhood, catapulting him as the more adult and responsible person,” wrote Twitter user Kelia Washington. “Language is everything.”

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Here are more reactions to King’s interview with Ponsetto, which will air in full Monday.


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