Bill Cosby‘s latest PR nightmare is no laughing matter. Just one day after the iconic comedian refused to answer questions about multiple sexual allegations during an interview with NPR, another victim has come forward.
So far the comedian has only issued a statement through his attorney denying the allegations. Is Cosby’s strategy working so far? TheWrap solicited advice from experts who deal with high profile crisis management on how they would handle Cosby’s predicament.
“He should shut the fuck up!” chairman and founder of 15 Minutes Public Relations, Howard Bragman told TheWrap. “He should have his lawyers shut the fuck up, and his PR people shut the fuck up.”
There is another way to handle the issue, although Bragman doesn’t recommend it. “If he truly feels he’s not guilty of these allegations, he should stand his ground and make a public statement,” he explained.
“And then, he really should shut the hell up.”
According to president and CEO of Centurion Strategies Michael Bilello, “When he did the NPR interview and literally said ‘no’ to making a comment it’s interpreted as stonewalling, and guilt is associated with that tactic. The public assumes you’re hiding something. That is the worst thing you can do.”
The sexual allegations against Cosby were reignited after a social media stunt soliciting memes with the comedian’s picture went terribly wrong.
Cosby’s Twitter account was soon flooded with user-generated memes, but not the kind the comedian was hoping for.
“My two favorite things are Jello and Rape,” said one follower. Another asked, “Someone really thought #CosbyMeme was a good idea?”
But snark may be the least of Cosby’s problems. “There’s the court of public opinion and then there’s the court of law,” said Bragman.
The allegations picked up steam last week after actress Barbara Bowman claimed that Cosby raped her in an essay in the Washington Post. Then another woman, a publicist by the name of Joan Tarshis, came forward with similar claims.
Recent comments about the scandal made by comedian Hannibal Buress during a standup routine in Philadelphia only added fuel to the fire.
In an effort to stop the crisis, Cosby’s lawyers issued a statement on the comedian’s official site saying he would not be addressing “decade-old, discredited allegations.”
The combined effect of all the negative attention could jeopardize a planned NBC primetime series and an hour-long Netflix special, but so far neither have been scrapped. “NBC is going to take time to see which way the wind blows,” predicted Bragman.
Cosby settled out of court with one of his accusers, Andrea Constand, in 2006. So far 14 women have come forward claiming similar allegations. And that, according to Bragman, is far worse than any canceled sitcom.
“His best hope right now is that someone else does something really stupid that attracts even more attention and claims the spotlight.”