Amidst all the allegations leveled against him, if nothing else, Bill Cosby has proven himself to be consistently entitled.
While speaking to a reporter for the New York Post, Cosby reportedly claimed, “Let me say this: I only expect the Black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that, you have to go in with a neutral mind.”
In a statement, Bill Cosby’s attorney, John P. Schmitt, argues the comments were “misconstrued:”
“As previously noted, Mr. Brown identified himself to Mr. Cosby as a freelance reporter for a number of African-American media. To be clear, Mr. Cosby did not ask for special treatment from the African-American media. To the contrary, he asked that they adhere to journalistic standards and approach the story in a neutral manner — without a predisposition on either side of the story. It is of course what we would expect of all media.”
Even so, Schmitt went on to speak against the tone of his critics — namely by the likes of Michael Eric Dyson:
“Mr. Cosby understands that Mr. Dyson does not agree with Mr. Cosby’s views, but such mean-spirited and reckless rhetoric cannot go unchallenged by responsible people and journalists.”
In a recent interview, Dyson revealed to MSNBC’s Ed Schultz that at one point years ago, Cosby flipped him off for his criticism. He later apologized, but was not open to his invitation to discuss their differences in a civil manner on Dyson’s then-radio show. Therein lies the problem with Cosby’s comments to Dyson then, his remarks to the New York Post, and the statement released thereafter: Bill Cosby does not like to be challenged.
No matter what his attorney says, I can easily see Bill Cosby maintaining the attitude that Black media should defend him in the wake of the expanded mainstream media coverage about his alleged transgressions. He is no different from many Black entertainers who feel the exact same way with met with a similar circumstance. As someone who has worked in both mainstream and Black media, I can attest to numerous times in which I was told by an editor at a Black publication that I could not write a certain celebrity for fear of retaliation.
Part of that is why Cosby got away with his commentary about poor Black children in the early 2000s. Black media felt protective of him because he was one of us even while he was condemning our most vulnerable. If you listen to his “pound cake” speech, he essentially excuses the deaths of Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement making headlines now.
Though mainstream publications can still be quite selective over which Black celebrities they cover, there is now widened accessibility. It’s why we live in a new reality where outlets like GQ are getting the kind of access to Black stars such as D’Angelo, Drake, and well, most rap stars these days, that Black media used to enjoy. However, when trouble surfaces, who do these Black celebrities run to?
Take Cosby for example. When is the last time Bill Cosby appeared on the cover of a Black magazine? And yet, who was he speaking to when he was discussing the 300 pieces of art he donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Art when he was interrupted to be questioned about a rape allegation? The Associated Press. Who was the contested quote about Black media in question given to? The New York Post, where casual racism reigns supreme on the editorial pages often and the covers, routinely.
What Bill Cosby seems to miss is the words “objectivity” and “neutral” are not interchangeable with coddling and blind allegiance. Cosby has not been BFFs with Black media and he has certainly treated poor Black people like his enemy for at least a decade now. For someone who touts about the values of education, Cosby should know that hue alone doesn’t warrant complete dismissal of what’s happening to him right now.
Mere hours back to my holiday trip back home, the subject of Bill Cosby came up. As I explained to my uncle yesterday, it is my belief that Bill Cosby is not worth a good goddamn. This sentiment was established long before his number of rape allegations expanded in terms of both national coverage and volume, but has solidified in his handling of them.
If Bill Cosby wants the coverage to change in both mainstream and Black media, here’s a tip: Speak up.