ABC News promised this morning it had an exclusive with Bill Cosby “responding” for the first time to allegations of sexual assault. Since November, more than 30 women have come forward, many of them saying he drugged and/or sexually assaulted them.
Cosby did not, in fact, address the allegations. He did, however, complain that he’s never seen anyone in the entertainment industry treated this way in his five decades in the biz, and swatted away softball questions tossed in his direction by ABC News’ Linsey Davis.
Setting up the damage-control stunt-cum-May-sweep-get, Lara Spencer noted Cosby was interviewed in Montgomery, Alabama where he is, “spreading his message about education, preparing to speak with students later today.”
“This morning, embattled comedian Bill Cosby, trying to change the narrative,” Davis says, accurately. He’s in town, she explained to “help bring awareness about the state of underfunded schools in Alabama,” she said, adding that he also responded, for the first time, to the “barrage of allegations.”
And by “responding to the barrage of allegations” she meant taking this question: “Are you prepared for the backlash, if a young person comes up to you and says, ‘My mom says you’ve done some bad things.’ How will you answer them if they are pressing you: ‘are you guilty, did you do it, are the allegations true?’.” All good questions for those kiddies to ask. And, because Davis did not ask the questions herself, she opened the way for Cosby to respond:
“I’m not sure that they will come like that. I think that many of them will say, ‘Well you’re a hypocrite, you say one thing, you say the other’.”
He told Davis he plans to respond by telling this hypothetical young person that the women who have accused him are not to be believed, saying he would respond, “Okay, listen to me carefully, I’m telling you where the road is out: You wanna be here? Or, you wanna be concerned about who is giving you the message?” he told Davis. ABC News did not air a follow-up question to that, if one was asked.
ABC News did note, however, the more than 30 women who have come forward with accusations against Cosby. ABC News also said Cosby’s “side” has issued a number of denials, and that Cosby has not been criminally charged; it did not elaborate. The news division did, however, say that “in an effort to turn the page, Cosby is now part of an initiative by an organization called The Black Belt Foundation to help bring awareness about the state of underfunded schools in Selma Alabama. (ABC News reported online Cosby has a “partnership with the Black Belt
Community Foundation” but did not explain what is the nature of that relationship.)
On-air, ABC News conceded there has been “online a firestorm” to the notion of schoolchildren becoming part of a Cosby damage-control campaign.
ABC News asked Cosby about that. It went like this:
“Are you concerned at all that, given the allegations, that may overshadow your message?” By “message,” ABC News was referencing the underfunded-schools message, not the “these women are not to be believed” message, just so we’re clear.
“I have been in this business 52 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Cosby said, adding “Reality is the situation. And I can’t speak.”
Three people sitting next to Cosby during the interview, who presumably were connected with the Black Belt Foundation, were asked if they had second thoughts about having Cosby come speak to the school children. One of them responded yes, but decided what mattered most was letting the world knows the children of the community matter.
Asked by Davis what he hopes will be his “legacy”, Cosby responded: “I really know about what I’m going to do
tomorrow. I have a ton of ideas to put on television, about people and their love for each other.”
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