Comedian Hannibal Buress recently stirred the pot pretty boldly about Bill Cosby. Buress riffed on a topic that has actually been around since 2005: Is Bill Cosby a rapist?
“Thirteen [women accusing Cosby]? It’s even worse because Bill Cosby has the fucking smuggest old black man public persona that I hate. He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the 80s. I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom.’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.
“If you didn’t know about it trust me. When you leave here, Google ‘Bill Cosby rape.’ It’s not funny.”
About a dozen women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct over the years. Some say they were drugged in some way. But none of it ever sticks. Police have declined to charge Cosby, citing lack of evidence.
According to a lengthy Snopes article on the topic, there is no definitive answer about whether the accusations against Cosby are true, but it is a fact that he has not been charged or convicted with these crimes. There was one lawsuit that was settled privately, with the terms not being disclosed.
A growing number of reports lately state or infer that 13 women came forward in to share their accusations in a book called Cosby: His Life and Times. Some state that the book was written in 2004. But these commonly-reported “factoids” have some major problems.
A search of Amazon shows a book by that title by Mark Whitaker. It was published this year. Within it, Cosby is hailed as a hero who has positively influenced generations of Americans. He does discuss an affair Cosby had, which led to an extortion scandal, but there is actually no mention of rape allegations.
In fact a couple of Amazon reviewers point out the exclusion of the assault story.
“Whitaker chooses not to bring up a sexual assault allegation leveled against Cosby a decade ago by a woman who claimed he attacked her in his home after being given pills.”
“Does not mention that 13 women accused him of rape and he settled out of court in 2006. Two women came forward after the statue of limitations was over and made accusations. Not mentioned in the book. Not one little bit.”
This is the only book by that title that comes up in searches. Other than multiple mentions of it in recent articles, there is no evidence that “13 women” came forward to tell their story for it.
Finally, Mark Whitaker himself was asked why he did not include the story of these allegations.
“In these cases, there were no definitive court findings, there were no independent witnesses, and I just felt, at the end of the day, all I would be doing would be, you know, ‘These people say this, Cosby denies it.’ And as not only a reporter but his biographer, if people asked me, ‘Well, what’s the truth? What do you think?’ I’d be in a position of saying, ‘I don’t know.’”
Perhaps the prevalence of mentions of a “book from 2004” with “13 women” accusing Cosby is a result of a typo, bad editing, and sloppy research. But the echo chamber of one blog after another copying and pasting info from each other is spreading misinformation.
Now, if only Bill Cosby would speak up and set the record straight.