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‘Friends’ desert Bill Cosby when he needs them most

RAYNARD JACKSON | 12/7/2014, 8:26 p.m.
“Hey, hey, hey (in my best Fat Albert’s voice), please listen to what I have to say. My friend Bill ...
Raynard Jackson

By RAYNARD JACKSON

(NNPA) – “Hey, hey, hey (in my best Fat Albert’s voice), please listen to what I have to say. My friend Bill Cosby is in trouble today.”

Even Fat Albert knows Cosby is getting a raw deal. As a public relations/crisis management professional, I have worked with some of the biggest names in sports, entertainment and business. So, let’s deconstruct this media frenzy engulfing the man who was once America’s favorite television dad.

Many of these allegations have been around for more than 30 years. Cosby has never been charged with a crime and deserves the presumption of innocence. Simply because several people – okay, eight and counting – provide a similar salacious account doesn’t make it true.

Until now, Cosby and his lovely wife, Camille, have not had to defend their hard-earned good name. They have given north of $50 million to educational institutions, especially HBCUs. Cosby has opened doors to many of the top actors and comediennes in the industry.

At the ripe old age of 77 years, at what point does one’s body of work require one to be given the benefit of the doubt? Cosby is, and in my book, will always be “America’s Dad.”

None of the females coming forward ever went to the police when the incident in question was supposed to have happened. There have been no corroborating witnesses. After the initial alleged incident, each of the women continued to spend private time with Cosby. If Cosby had done what they allege, why would they continue to spend private time with him? That makes no sense. Not even to Fat Albert.

And the media’s hands are not clean in the smear campaign.

Why would respected news organizations even give these women a platform when they offer no proof or evidence to support their allegations?

Corporate America has also taken the guilty until proven innocent approach toward Cosby, a former corporate darling.

NBC officials announced last week that that they were no longer working with Cosby to produce a new series that was supposed to launch next summer. Mind you that Cosby made NBC billions of dollars with his hit television series The Cosby Show in the 80s and the successful spinoff, A Different World.

Evidently, Hollywood is a different world.

Even more surprising than the reaction from Hollywood and Corporate America is the paucity of people willing to defend Cosby or at least insist on a greater burden of proof from his growing list of accusers. To be blunt, true friends don’t desert friends based on unsubstantiated rumors.

That means even when defending them is unpopular. I have publicly defended former Senate Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi when I knew accusations of him being a White racist were unfounded. I also backed former Majority House Leader Tom DeLay, who stepped down in 2005 after being indicted for allegedly improperly funneling campaign donations to Texas House candidates. He was eventually exonerated, but by then, his political career had been unfairly destroyed.