UPDATE: Phylicia Rashad appeared on Nightline on Thursday in order to clarify that she had been misquoted in this interview, and to deny that she ever said to "forget these women." However, she still stands in support of Bill Cosby and his legacy.
It's becoming increasingly unsurprising to have former stars from The Cosby Show speaking out or opening up about Bill Cosby in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal he is currently embroiled in, whether it's simply to say they can't talk about it or whether it's to defend him from the charges. Over 20 women have claimed that Cosby either raped or sexually assaulted them, usually after drugging them, and with Cosby himself maintaining his silence then that leaves the conversation open for everyone else to throw their two cents in. The latest to do so is Clair Huxtable herself. On Tuesday, Phylicia Rashad spoke in defense of Bill Cosby, and it's no surprise that her statement has shocked and outraged fans. As one fan put it, Clair Huxtable would never.
According to an interview Rashad did with ShowBiz411, the entire controversy was made up. In fact, she believes it was deliberately made up. "Forget these women," she said. "What you're seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it's orchestrated. I don't know why or who's doing it, but it's the legacy. And it's a legacy that is so important to the culture... Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV, and it's worked. All his contracts have been canceled."
I don't even know where to begin with the ridiculousness of such a statement. To discredit the stories of over 20 women, to say the world should "forget" them, because their claims are part of some kind of plot to get Cosby off TV — I don't know what to say to that. It's disappointing. It's disappointing that Rashad can take something as serious as the previously unacknowledged voices of so many women and dismiss them for a reason that seems so petty. There are millions of ways to get Cosby off television, ways that have absolutely nothing to do with making up false stories of sexual assault. Even worse, even one story would have been sufficient to do so — and there are over 20 stories being told.
Add that to the fact that this isn't even the first time many of these stories have been shared with the media, but the first time the media and public have actually listened, and the entire basis for Rashad's argument becomes flimsy at best and insulting at worse. A decade-long crusade to get Cosby off television, one that has been hit with as many setbacks as these women have faced trying to get people to listen to them, wouldn't be very effective. If that was truly the end goal here, then I would think they would have tried some other methods when the first method didn't work. I don't know about you, but it seems the more I try to make sense of Rashad's argument, the more holes I find in it.
There was at least one woman that was defended by Rashad in her statement: Camille Cosby. Rashad dismissed the claims that Camille had looked the other way while Cosby perpetrated these alleged crimes against other women, stating, "This is a tough woman, a smart woman. She's no pushover." Whether or not that takes away some of the sting of her casual dismissal of the 20 women who claim to have been assaulted by Cosby is really up to your own discretion, but for me it's like putting a band-aid on a wound. At the end of the day, there are so many other ways that Rashad could have chosen to defend Cosby, so many other words she could have said, and the fact that she chose to do so by shaming the victims is really disappointing.
Unsurprisingly, she has not endeared herself to fans with these words.
Cosby's official statement with regards to the controversy remains the same, via his lawyer: “Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.”
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