Stacy Brown, the freelance reporter who got Bill Cosby to break his silence says the comedian’s comments are being “totally misconstrued.”
“He was not asking for any favors, he was asking for fairness,” Brown told TheWrap. “He knew he was talking to an African-American reporter who writes for African-American newspapers. It’s a shame that all those in the black press were so quick to take insult when there was no reason to be insulted.”
In a surprising move, the embattled comedian talked to Brown on December 14, after Brown picked up the phone and called Cosby’s house.
“I really didn’t expect to get him,” said Brown. “I was caught completely off-guard. To be frank, I never expected he’d answer the phone. He sounded jovial. I think he really wanted to talk but he’s paid a lot of money to lawyers and consultants who have told him not to.”
The conversation, which was published in both the Washington Informer and New York Post’s Page Six, ignited a firestorm of controversy from the African-American journalism community after Cosby told Brown, “I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind.”
The impromptu interview only lasted three minutes, but it was enough to pique the interest of major news outlets around the world.
“When I got off the phone, I called my editors and told them I didn’t think there was enough for a story,” said Brown. “Everyone told me I was crazy saying, ‘He hasn’t talked. You have something. It’s a story!'”
Bill Cosby‘s attorney, John P. Schmitt, quickly issued a statement criticizing Brown.
“Mr. Brown did not indicate that he was interviewing Mr. Cosby for publication, did not say that he was reporting for the New York Post, and did not tell Mr. Cosby that the conversation was being recorded,” Schmitt wrote in a statement obtained by TheWrap. “In a discussion of journalistic standards, Mr. Brown failed to adhere to the most basic standards of his profession.”
Brown says that’s hogwash.
“I certainly didn’t call him to invite him to tea,” he said. “Bill Cosby never said to me, ‘This is off the record.’ If you’re talking to a reporter on the telephone, you should expect either notes will be taken and/or you’ll be recorded.”
The comedian’s lawyer couldn’t be reached for comment but did issue a statement to NBC News late Thursday.
“Mr. Cosby’s comments to Stacy Brown which were reported in the New York Post on December 14 continue to be misconstrued in a way that can only call into question the fair-mindedness of certain commentators,” Schmitt said. “As previously noted, Mr. Brown identified himself to Mr. Cosby as a free-lance reporter for a number of African-American media. To be clear, Mr. Cosby did not ask for special treatment from the African-American media. To the contrary, he asked that they adhere to journalistic standards and approach the story in a neutral manner – without a predisposition on either side of the story. It is of course what we would expect of all media.”
The statement also took aim at MSNBC political analyst, Michael Eric Dyson, for criticizing Cosby’s black media quote.
Dyson said Cosby was the “kind of man who will rape an entire black community, poor black people who are vulnerable before him, using his powerful foot to clump down their necks.”
Cosby’s lawyer called the remarks “reckless” and “mean-spirited.”
“Dyson, who has been a persistent critic of Mr. Cosby’s call for responsibility in the African-American community, has stated that Mr. Cosby’s request for neutrality is part of what he calls Mr. Cosby’s ‘rape [of the] entire black community,’” wrote Schmitt. “Mr. Cosby understands that Mr. Dyson does not agree with Mr. Cosby’s views, but such mean-spirited and reckless rhetoric cannot go unchallenged by responsible people and journalists.”
Cosby has been accused of raping, sexually assaulting or drugging more than 20 women in recent weeks.
Since his interview with Brown, another woman has come forward accusing the comedian of drugging and possibly taking advantage of her.
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