Elena Nicolaou-Fri, January 8, 2021, 11:45 AM EST
- Gayle King interviewed Miya Ponsetto, the 22-year-old woman who was nicknamed “SoHo Karen” after falsely accusing a Black teenager of stealing her phone at a New York City hotel.
- Ponsetto was arrested in California on January 8, the same day her CBS This Morning interview aired.
- During the tense conversation, Ponsetto wore a hat with the words “daddy” while defending her actions before cutting Gayle off with a hand up and the word “enough.”
First came “Central Park” Karen. Then “Permit Karen” of Montclair, NJ. This year has been marked by a series of videos that went viral for what they reveal about racism’s insidious place in American culture. For a segment on CBS This Morning, Gayle King sat down with the aggressor of one of the latest of such videos: 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto, who has since become known as “SoHo Karen.”
On December 26, 2020, Ponsetto falsely accused Keyon Harrold Jr., a 14-year-old Black teenager, of stealing her phone in the lobby of Manhattan’s Arlo Hotel, CBS News reported. Harrold Jr.’s father, prominent jazz musician Keyon Harrold Sr., recorded the interaction as evidence of Ponsetto’s alleged racial profiling. A hotel surveillance video later released by the NYPD showed Ponsetto physically attacking Harrold Jr. Ultimately, Harrold Jr. never had Ponsetto’s phone, and it was recovered at the hotel.
During the exclusive interview, Gayle gave Ponsetto a chance to explain her controversial actions, which ultimately led to her arrest. After the NYPD issued a warrant for her arrest, Ponsetto was apprehended near her California home on January 8, 2020, the day after the interview took place. She will be extradited to New York to face charges, per the New York Times.
Gayle began their virtual sit-down by asking Ponsetto to “help her understand” why she thought Harrold Jr., specifically, had taken her phone. “That’s why I’m confused. Why did you think he had it?” Gayle said.
“I had been approaching people who had been exiting the hotel because in my mind, anyone exiting might be the one to have stolen my phone,” Ponsetto explained before admitting that she did not approach everyone who was exiting the hotel.
Harrold Sr. had given his perspective on the events in a previous interview with NewsNation. “My son and I were at the Arlo Hotel, we were in our room. We decided to go downstairs to grab some brunch the day after Christmas. As soon as we got into the lobby, we were basically berated literally like criminals who had literally stole something,” Harrold Sr. told
While not acknowledging the racial dynamics present in the altercation, Ponsetto expressed to Gayle some regret at how she handled the situation. “I admit, yes, I could have approached the situation differently or maybe not yelled at him like that. And made him feel sort of…inferior. Making him feel as if I was hurting his feelings. That was not my intention,” Ponsetto said, going on to describe herself as “super sweet.”
Still, when pressed about her reaction, Ponsetto failed to grasp why her actions were considered racist. “I apologized. Can we move on?” Ponsetto said. “I’m a 22-year-old girl. How is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime?”
To that, Gayle said no, they could not move on. Instead, she asked Ponsetto to address the “context” of her accusation, especially in a year in which the U.S. has been embroiled in painful conversations regarding the potential dangers of being Black in America—especially when another person wields their privilege.
“You have to at least understand your actions that day,” Gayle said. “You seem to have attacked this teenager about the phone. And then it turned out he didn’t even have your phone. That’s the thing. You’re 22-years-old, but you’re old enough to know better.”
In what Gayle later called her “favorite part” of the interview, Ponsetto responded by lowering her hand to the screen and telling Gayle, “Enough.” The attorney next to Ponsetto appeared to be visibly shocked when her client interrupted Gayle, and muttered, “Stop. Stop.” Since the clip ends here, it’s unclear whether Ponsetto did, indeed, stop.
Others took note of Ponsetto’s hat, emblazoned with the word “Daddy.” The hat is a piece of Call Her Daddy merch, created by a popular Barstool Sports podcast that discusses sex and dating. Gayle mentioned Ponsetto’s lawyer recommended she not wear the hat, but “she refused to do that, too
Reflecting on the footage with her co-anchors, Gayle called the conversation an “interesting afternoon,” and said it probably wasn’t “helping” Ponsetto’s case—which has only just begun. “There’s something sad about her, and the trauma that she put a 14-year-old through is not okay,” Gayle said.