No laughing matter
Comedian's deeds and subsequent downfall chronicled in detail in well-researched book
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/04/2019 (1377 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For five decades, this was a bigger coverup than a total eclipse.
So when, like an exhausted septic tank, the putrid truth about Bill Cosby finally oozed out in public with a stench that couldn’t be denied, people slowly began to accept that America’s most beloved, make-believe and picture-perfect fairy-tale Dad was really a fawning sexual serpent accused of drugging and violating 63 women over a half-century. It was as arresting as bumping into evangelist Billy Graham in a bootlegger’s, or financial genius Warren Buffett in a pawn shop.
American author Nicole Weisensee Egan skilfully charts the destruction of William (Bill) Cosby and how the rich and brilliant American comedic writer and performer was protected for years by a shroud of lies and whitewash that withheld the truth from his adoring public and allowed him, according to his accusers, to repeat and repeat his vile conduct with liberty. Much of this compliance was manufactured by three conspiring forces: Hollywood, officialdom and law enforcement.
The 81-year-old Cosby was sentenced in 2018 to three to 10 years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Canadian Andrea Constand at Temple University in Philadelphia in 2004. Constand, one of the top female basketball players in Canada in high school, later moved back to Ontario to live with her parents.
Egan is an accomplished crime writer who holds a master’s degree in criminal justice. She was the first reporter to investigate Constand’s allegations in 2005.
While other news organizations looked away, Egon delved deep into the life and conduct of Cosby the serial predator despite widespread opposition to revealing the truth about a man so popular his name popped up in public more often than Kleenex. At one time he was considered the most popular man in America.
Egan’s writing is easy to follow, and the 23 pages of small print she needs to list all her sources are a testament to her exhaustive research.
As Egan discovered over time, Cosby’s modus operandi was always the same.
As women came forward, one by one they told of how Cosby had befriended them, mentored them and helped their careers, then would get them alone, drug them and sexually abuse them. Under the influence of the drugs they were either passed out when violated, or awake but rendered incapable of fighting him.
Egan writes: “Bill Cosby chose his victims carefully, with the instincts of a predator. He chose young, vulnerable, star-struck women… blinded by his squeaky-clean reputation, and whom, he knew, would not be believed should they come forward with their tales… of betrayal run amok.” After Constand publicly exposed Cosby in 2005, 13 more women came forward with similar stories.
After accusing Cosby of molesting them, all these women (and many more, over time) had to face a relentless army of hired guns — Cosby lawyers as well as powerful media and public relations spin doctors — who would try to manipulate public opinion against them, discredit them as liars and gold-diggers and gain sympathy for Cosby as a God-fearing family man. The women often wondered which was worse — the sexual violence or their character assassination.
Egan writes that it is human nature to want to believe a beloved person such as Cosby when he repeatedly denies the allegations against him. This makes the job of discrediting his accusers easier.
As well, the spin doctors of the black arts of denial and misrepresentation had influence over media outlets far beyond the ability of these women.
But, Egan says, that all changed with the coming of social media. These experts in orchestrating public opinion did not have the power and influence to shape the message on the new media as they had been able to do in traditional communications. Thus, she says, the balance of public opinion changed from supporting Cosby to believing his accusers.
Cosby’s legacy, Egan says, “is now in tatters.” Most of his 60-plus honorary degrees have been revoked. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expelled him. And, for the first time ever, the Television Critics Association has rescinded his career achievement award.
You may wish to shower after reading some parts of this book.
Barry Craig is a retired journalist.