April 19, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

‘Enough,’ says SoHo Karen when confronted by Gayle King

“CBS This Morning” anchor Gayle King has confronted 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 later that day after it was found by an Uber driver.

On Thursday, Ponsetto was arrested in Ventura County after the New York Police Department flew detectives out 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.”

“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.”

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). She also suggested that she only attacked Keyon by “yelling at him.”

A booking photo of Miya Ponsetto provided by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

(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.

“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.

“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.”

A clip of the interview, posted Friday on Twitter by “CBS This Morning,” drew sharp criticism from several who condemned Ponsetta 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.

King’s full interview with Ponsetto will air Monday.