In Defense of Bill Cosby (Guest Opinion Blog)

Era of “gotcha” journalism is out-weighing actual laws

Editor’s note: TheWrap’s CEO and editor-in-chief addresses reader outrage over this post and the headline has been updated accordingly to response. Read Sharon Waxman‘s letter from the editor here.

UPDATE Nov. 23, 2014 1:24 p.m. PT:

Mea Culpa

The furor over my recent blog that was misconstrued as defending Bill Cosby was unexpected, but not unwarranted.

I apologize to anyone who has faced the horrific physical and mental pain that comes with forcible abuse and unwelcome sexual advances. Rape is a strong term, and we often forget that what might appear as protestations that are muted by either the deliberate or clandestine ingestion of drugs is as heinous as being forced to submit sexually at gun point. They are both rape. When you add that to a public figure who abuses that power, and considers his celebrity to be the ultimate aphrodisiac – you have a lethal combination that should not be defended.

Clearly, the women who have come forward now, do so more out of frustration with the legal system than, as I described, their desire to fix one eye on a CNN camera, and the other on a reality show contract. That was not only mean, but incendiary to anyone who has experienced that sort of abuse. I was reminded by people very close to me, that if any of those women were my daughter, friend, or close associate – I would take a different tact with Cosby that would not end up in a blog. I had to think about that, and admit that they were right.

As Sharon Waxman so eloquently defended me — the purpose of the blog was to bring damnation down on the media. On this subject I’m not willing to pull punches, and in my zeal to cram as many adjectives and references to pop culture into my diatribe — the original substance of the blog was obfuscated by, what one person accurately referred to as language that belonged in middle school.

I’ve prided myself in defending those who have no voices – the elderly, victims of child abuse, and survivors of the Holocaust. If a Holocaust survivor was discounted because they did not speak out many decades ago, I would be enraged. Therefore, I understand your rage.

Richard Stellar’s original post begins here

Bill Cosby raped me.

Now that I have your attention, consider this: the allegations of sexual misadventure and impropriety that have pummeled the Cos over the last few weeks is not the issue. The issue is the scurrilous environment where media outlets and journalists lie in wait, like aging corpulent prostitutes, their hair dyed flame red and their nails like elongated daggers — waiting to blow any John who dares to topple those who may be kings. It’s once again an example of the TMZ-isation of journalism.

The prized real estate that is the first screen view of news websites, or the much vied for leading news story content on the evening news has been hijacked for reports of the latest Cosby detractor, while issues like Ferguson, IS, immigration reform, and 46 abducted students in Mexico receive a momentary lapse of attention. Our focus shifts when a celebrity falls, and like extras in “Walking Dead,” our direction sharply turns, and our attention shifts to the exposed flesh of the fallen, and we grunt and drool, waiting to feast.

The concept of justice is disregarded. The statute of limitations is ignored. The recollections of events that happened as long as fifty years ago are dredged up by aging actresses who have one eye on the CNN camera, and the other on a book or reality show deal. If the statute of limitations was as long as the 15 minutes of fame that these lost souls are trying to recapture, then our prisons would be as vacant as the Holiday Inn in Acapulco (you probably have no idea what that means because you’re not used to real news). Thankfully, the statute of limitations was written to avoid exactly what this blog is about. There is no legitimacy to justice if there is no real evidence, and evidence has a way of vanishing as memories dim with the marching of time. A DNA swab on most of Cosby’s detractors if done today would most likely come up exceedingly dry.

I’m not saying that what these woman claim happened, didn’t happen. I get it — Cos was the campfire that parents would sit at with their children, and chuckle at his homespun humor and life lessons. When we all retreated back to our tents with our tummys full of S’mores and toasted marshmallows, Cos was back in his tent, banging the camp counselor after doping her with quaaludes. Yes, that could well have happened, and once those women realized the violation that they endured at the hands of Cosby, then they should have reported it then — not a generation later.

I wrote a blog recently taking Woody Allen down for his alleged abuse that was detailed in Dylan Farrow’s op-ed in The New York Times. You might find it hypocritical that I suggested that we shun Woody Allen based on years-old testimony, and I’m giving the Cos a pass for his alleged abuse of women years ago. There’s a huge difference. Dylan Farrow had credibility. Child abuse in my estimation is on an equal par to murder. The uncomfortable truth that Dylan Farrow courageously revealed, to me, was undeniable — and that abuse had been reported to both social workers and to the courts.

Not so with Bill Cosby. His detractors and accusers smack of something else than truth — they carry the faint aroma of deceit, selective memory, and blind ambition.

Editor’s note: TheWrap’s CEO and editor-in-chief addresses reader outrage over this post and the headline has been updated accordingly to response. Read Sharon Waxman‘s letter from the editor here.