Bill Cosby Awkwardly Silent About Rape Allegations On NPR

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Update: Following the NPR interview, this statement by Bill Cosby's lawyer, John P. Schmitt, was posted on Cosby's website: "Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives."
Original story: The Bill Cosby story just took another weird turn. After cancelled appearances on The Queen Latifah Show and Late Night with David Letterman (no word on who cancelled on whom in Letterman's case), Cosby and his wife, Camille, appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, where Cosby refused to speak when asked about sexual assault accusations that date back to 2005.
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To be clear, the comedian didn't say "no comment." Cosby literally sat there not saying anything when interviewer Scott Simon asked about the allegations.
SIMON: This question gives me no pleasure Mr. Cosby, but there have been serious allegations raised about you in recent days.
[SILENCE]
SIMON: You're shaking your head no. I'm in the news business. I have to ask the question: Do you have any response to those charges?
[SILENCE]
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SIMON: Shaking your head no. There are people who love you who might like to hear from you about this. I want to give you the chance.
[SILENCE]
In 2005, Andrea Constand, a staff member of the Temple University basketball team, sued Cosby over an incident the year before, which Cosby said was consensual. Her attorneys said they found 13 Jane Does with similar stories. The case was settled out of court in 2006. Another alleged victim, former lawyer Tamara Green, spoke with Newsweek in February about her attack.
The allegations against Cosby were stirred up again in late October when comedian Hannibal Buress attacked Cosby for having the "smuggest old black man public persona." In a stand-up routine, Buress said, "Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches. 'I don't curse onstage.' Well, yeah, you're a rapist, so I'll take you saying lots of m*****f*****s on Bill Cosby: Himself if you weren't a rapist."
And, of course, there was a meme backfire last week that was incredibly pointed, and another alleged victim told her terrifying story in The Washington Post.
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There have been 13 women who've accused Cosby of rape, and this time, it doesn't look like it's going to go away. The question is, why are the allegations resurfacing now, and why didn't anything happen when they were originally reported?
It's hard for people who grew up on The Cosby Show to reconcile the family man image that he so meticulously cultivated with the idea that Bill Cosby may have committed some pretty terrible acts. We also don't like to believe that people whose work we love are capable of doing bad things (see: Woody Allen). And, as a culture, we tend to respond with skepticism toward women who say they were attacked or raped — precisely why we talk about rape culture and how to fight it. Because, if your first response to a woman saying she's been attacked is to doubt or attack her, you're part of the problem. Women don't generally lie about being raped — only 2-8% of rape allegations are considered false.
And, of course, in the digital age, you don't throw away a paper or a magazine and have it disappear. As Buress said in his act, "I've done this bit on stage and people think I'm making it up... When you leave here, Google 'Bill Cosby rape.' That shit has more results than 'Hannibal Buress.'"
Cosby's next scheduled gig is on November 23 for Comedy Central, which, at the moment, is planning to air his first concert special in 30 years. It's titled Far From Finished.
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