Cosby Biographer: ‘I Was Wrong’ Not To Include Rape Allegations In Book

The author of a recent biography of Bill Cosby is now owning up to his book’s omission of the rape allegations against the comedian that have received increased attention in recent weeks.

Mark Whitaker, the author of “Cosby: His Life and Times,” responded Monday to criticism of the book by New York Times media critic David Carr.

In his latest column, Carr included himself among those he described as Cosby’s media enablers — journalists who helped maintain the public’s ignorance or indifference to the sexual assault allegations — but also took aim at Whitaker’s book, which was written with the former sitcom star’s cooperation.

Whitaker said he didn’t mention the multiple accusations in the book because he was unable to independently confirm them, an explanation that Carr said “raises the question of why he wouldn’t have done the work to knock down the accusations or make them stand up.”

“And given that the accusations had already been carefully and thoroughly reported in Philadelphia magazine and elsewhere, any book of the size and scope of Mr. Whitaker’s should have gone there,” Carr wrote.

Shortly after the column was published, Whitaker took to Twitter to express regret.

“David you are right. I was wrong to not deal with the sexual assault charges against Cosby and pursue them more aggressively,” Whitaker said in a tweet directed at Carr.

In a subsequent tweet, Whitaker said he is “following new developments and will address them at the appropriate time.”

“If true the stories are shocking and horrible,” he said.

The allegations against Cosby exploded back to the surface last month after a performance in Philadelphia by standup comedian Hannibal Buress.

During the Oct. 16 set, Buress called Cosby a rapist, ushering in renewed attention to the accusations and almost immediately transforming Cosby’s teflon image. The fallout has extended to Whitaker, who told The Daily Beast this month that he will “address [the rape allegations] in future editions of the book, if not sooner.” But the author took heat for the omission well before the Buress performance, including in Carr’s own newspaper.

In a Times book review published in September, Dwight Garner described the biography as “square, competent, gentle, G-rated, dignified and, in the end, a bit distant.”

Garner wrote that “[t]he best thing” Whitaker accomplished in the book was to remind young people “of what this warm, plain-spoken and unruffled comedian and actor meant to audiences, black and white, during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.”

But that same portrayal, Garner noted, overlooked unsavory details.

“He has been married for more than 50 years, yet was a womanizer before he was 40, this book suggests, and a frequent guest at the Playboy Mansion,” Garner wrote. “Mr. Whitaker mentions Mr. Cosby’s roving eye, while providing few concrete details, except for an affair, long ago made public, with a woman whose daughter later tried to blackmail him. This book’s greatest omission, as others have pointed out, is its total avoidance of the sexual abuse allegations that have dogged Mr. Cosby.”

Cosby, who has never been charged with a crime, has been adamant about refusing to comment on the allegations. He got irritated during an interview earlier this month with the Associated Press, when a reporter made reference to the comments by Buress.

Cosby quickly cut the reporter off and, when the interview ended, asked the AP to “scuttle” his response to the question about Buress.

The AP only published footage from the interview after another accuser, the supermodel Jane Dickinson, came forward and said Cosby raped her.

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