In recent weeks, it seemed that Bill Cosby’s strategy for handling a new round of rape allegations was to simply remain silent. Cosby’s lawyer said he “does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment,” and his scheduled interviews with David Letterman and Queen Latifah were canceled. When NPR’s “Weekend Edition” asked about the new claims, Cosby shook his head and said nothing.
However, the comedian did respond verbally when questioned by the Associated Press earlier this month. “There’s no response,” Cosby said in footage released for the first time on Wednesday night. “There is no comment about that. And I’ll tell you why. I don’t want to compromise your integrity, but I don’t talk about it.”
In the November 6 interview, Cosby discussed his collection of African-American art becoming part of a Smithsonian exhibit, with his wife, Camille, by his side. After the interview wrapped, Cosby urged the reporter to “scuttle” his response to the rape question. In an uncomfortable exchange, the reporter said he couldn’t promise that, though he and another AP employee agreed that his nonresponse wouldn’t add “value” to the interview.
“I think if you want to consider yourself to be serious that it will not appear anywhere,” Cosby said, adding that he didn’t think he’d have to warn an outlet like the AP not to ask about the allegations. “If you will just tell your bosses the reason why we didn’t say that up front was because we thought that AP had the integrity to not ask,” he added.
The video released by the AP earlier this month focused exclusively on the exhibit. The accompanying article by Brett Zongker mentioned in the final paragraph that Cosby “declined to comment” about the allegations, but he is not quoted on the issue:
Cosby has been in the news lately as he prepares for a new sitcom on network television 30 years after his groundbreaking role as Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show,” and because reviewers have criticized his otherwise comprehensive authorized biography published last month for making no mention of past accusations of sexual assault. Cosby declined to comment when asked for his response during the interview. The allegation stems from an investigation and lawsuit settled in 2006. Cosby has never been charged with sexual assault.