Bill Cosby asks Associated Press reporter to ‘scuttle’ footage of rape allegation questions (Video)

Billy Cosby's interview with Associated PressBill Cosby is seen and heard calmly demanding that an Associated Press reporter not broadcast a portion of an interview wherein the comedian refuses to comment about the multiple sexual assault allegations against him. The Nov. 6 interview was pegged to Cosby’s recent contribution of African Art to a museum in Washington D.C. But toward the end of the interview, the Associated Press reporter asks about the recent re-surfacing of those allegations due, in part, to comedian Hannibal Buress calling Cosby a rapist during a stand-up show in Philadelphia.

After the questioning, Cosby says, “Now can I get something from you?” “What’s that?” the reporter asks. “That none of that will be shown.”

“I can’t promise that, myself,” the reporter responds, adding, “You didn’t say anything.”

“I know I didn’t say anything,” Cosby responds, adding, “But I’m asking–your integrity– that since I didn’t want to say anything but I did answer you in terms of I don’t want to say anything in terms of what value it would have…” Cosby’s wife Camille was present during the entire interview.

“I don’t think…” the reporter begins, when Cosby begins talking to a woman off camera who says, “I don’t think it has any value either.”

“And I would appreciate it if it was scuttled,” Cosby continues.

“I hear you,” the reporter says. “I will tell that to my editors and I think that they will understand.”

“Well I think that if you want to consider yourself to be serious that it will not appear anywhere,” Cosby says.

“Ok, I appreciate what you’ve asked,” the reporter says. But Cosby still wasn’t done. “And we thought, by the way, because it was AP that it wouldn’t be necessary to go over that question.”

“And we haven’t written about this in the past two months, but my bosses wanted me to ask,” the reporter says.

“If you will tell your boss the reason why we didn’t say that up front is because we thought the AP had the integrity to not ask.” And that is when a man off camera — we would guess, either a Cosby or museum rep — explains that he had a conversation with an Associated Press television writer prior to the interview who agreed to not ask about the sexual assault allegations. I’m not sure what this has to do with the reporter conducting the interview. Unless the man had a conversation with the reporter in front of Cosby, it doesn’t much matter what type of discussion he had with another person from the AP— unless that conversation was relayed to the reporter on site and it was agreed that sexual allegations should not come up during the interview.

In a somewhat more stern tone, Cosby addresses the man off camera, saying, “I think you need to get on the phone with his person [the reporter on site]. Immediately.”

The Associated Press claims it made no such promises to avoid questions about the rape allegations or to withold any of the on-the-record interview with Cosby.

Here’s the thing: Cosby keeps talking about the Associated Press‘ integrity. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that once you’ve agreed to an on-the-record interview you have no right to ask a reporter to not include something. That is, unless, you clearly state something along the lines of “from this point forward, this is off the record and for background purposes only.” The Associated Press did nothing wrong. At no time did Cosby ask to terminate the interview or request that the cameras be turned off. It is standard practice for a high-profile subject to set parameters with the media — sometimes in writing — about any topics that are off limits. Cosby or his reps should’ve taken advantage of this, especially if they’re going to let their client do interviews in the midst of a sexual assault scandal.

This Associated Press video probably explains why Cosby simply shook his head and remained silent when NPR reporter Sam Simon asked him similar questions. I’m willing to bet the NPR interview was recorded after the Associated Press chat. NPR hasn’t been clear on when their Cosby interview was actually recorded. It aired Nov. 15 on Weekend Edition.

The Associated Press video was released a day after former supermodel Janice Dickinson became the 15th woman to accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault and a few days after journalist Joan Tarshis published an essay on the Hollywood Elsewhere website, claiming that she, too, was sexually assaulted by Cosby. Dickinson and Tarshis were preceded by actress Barbara Bowman, one of the original 13 women who alleged sexual assault, who retold about her relationship with Cosby in an in-depth interview with The Daily Mail and an essay for the Washington Post.

Yesterday, NBC decided to scrap plans to develop a new family sitcom with Cosby and TV Land canceled it’s upcoming marathon of The Cosby Show. Netflix also announced it would “postpone” the premiere of Cosby’s newest stand-up comedy special Cosby 77. Before that Cosby appearances on the Queen Latifah Show and Late Show with David Letterman were canceled.

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Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor emeritus of Laughspin.

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