Bill Cosby’s interview earlier this month with the Associated Press provided a glimpse into the comedian’s efforts to control the media’s coverage of the sexual assault allegations that have dogged him in recent weeks.
When the reporter first asked about the claims, the former sitcom star said flatly, “No, no, we don’t answer that.” The AP was told, Cosby insisted, that those questions were out of bounds.
Once the interview ended, Cosby asked to have the part about the rape allegations “scuttled.”
Court documents obtained by the New York Times provide another example of how Cosby managed to strong-arm a media outlet back in 2005.
Cosby said under oath that he gave an “exclusive” interview to The National Enquirer — “my words,” he said. In exchange, the tabloid would kill an interview with model Beth Ferrier, whose sexual assault allegations against Cosby had not been disclosed at the time.
The testimony came during a September 2005 deposition for a federal lawsuit filed by Andrea Constand, who accused the comedian of drugging and assaulting her. Cosby said he was concerned that Ferrier’s claims would lend credence to Constand’s allegations.
Robin Mizrahi, the Enquirer reporter who interviewed Ferrier, told The Guardian last week that Cosby’s lawyers threatened to sue the tabloid if her story ran. Mizrahi said she was “livid” that the Enquirer opted to run “a bullshit feel-good interview with Cosby.”
Indeed, the interview that ran instead of Mizrahi’s story served as Cosby’s forceful rebuttal to Constand’s charges.
“Looking back on it, I realize that words and actions can be misinterpreted by another person, and unless you’re a supreme being, you can’t predict what another individual will do,” he said in the interview.
Cosby’s publicist, David Brokaw, did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.
Cosby has never been charged with a crime, but he’s faced mounting allegations, both new and old, over the last few weeks.
It’s brought newfound fallout to a comedian who once had a sparkling public image. Netflix postponed Cosby’s comedy special that was slated to be released on Thanksgiving. Shortly thereafter, NBC nixed a planned sitcom with Cosby.
Three of Cosby’s standup performances were canceled last week amid the growing furor over the allegations. He went through with a show last Friday in Melbourne, Fla., where he reportedly received a standing ovation.
While the comedian’s representatives have pushed back forcefully against the allegations, Cosby himself has simply refused to talk about them.
He went completely silent when asked about the allegations during an interview with NPR earlier this month. The AP, meanwhile, originally honored his request to have the uncomfortable portion of the interview “scuttled” before ultimately releasing the footage after another the supermodel Janice Dickinson came forward and said Cosby raped her in 1982.
In a statement released last week, Cosby’s attorney, Martin D. Singer, denounced “the media’s breakneck rush to run stories without any corroboration or adherence to traditional journalistic standards.”
“Lawsuits are filed against people in the public eye every day,” Singer said in the statement. “There has never been a shortage of lawyers willing to represent people with claims against rich, powerful men, so it makes no sense that not one of these new women who just came forward for the first time now ever asserted a legal claim back at the time they alleged they had been sexually assaulted.”
Singer did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.