Cosby Team’s Strategy: Hush Accusers, Insult Them, Blame the Media

Lorne Manly and Graham Bowley, New York Times, December 29, 2014

In 2005, when Tamara Green told the “Today” show and The Philadelphia Inquirer that Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in the early 1970s, one of Mr. Cosby’s lawyers publicly branded the allegations “absolutely false,” while his aides approached another newspaper with “damaging information” about her, according to court documents.

Five years earlier, after an actress on Mr. Cosby’s TV series “Cosby” told the police that he had tried to put her hand down his sweatpants at his New York townhouse, Mr. Cosby’s lawyers threatened The National Enquirer with a $250 million defamation suit for publishing detailed comments about the incident by the woman’s relatives.

And when Mr. Cosby acknowledged an extramarital affair in a 1997 interview with Dan Rather, his agent telephoned the president of CBS Entertainment to demand that the segment not air on “60 Minutes” as planned. It did not, although CBS News said the decision had nothing to do with the call.

As accusations of sexual assault continue to mount against Mr. Cosby–more than two dozen women have gone public, the latest last Monday–the question arises as to why these stories never sparked a widespread outcry before. While many of the women say they never filed police complaints or went public because they feared damaging their reputations or careers, the aggressive legal and media strategy mounted by Mr. Cosby and his team may also have played a significant role.

An examination of how the team has dealt with scandals over the past two decades and into this fall reveals an organized and expensive effort that involved quashing accusations as they emerged while raising questions about the accusers’ character and motives, both publicly and surreptitiously. And the team has never been shy about blasting the news media for engaging in a feeding frenzy even as the team made deals or slipped the news organizations information that would cast Mr. Cosby’s accusers in a negative light.

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During this recent spate of accusations, the Cosby team has suggested that the proliferation of accounts is itself a reason to distrust them and has pointed to apparent inconsistencies in some of the women’s stories. It has also systematically directed its ire at the news media, which it claims is engaged in a blind rush to judgment against a man who has never been convicted or charged. {snip}

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But casting doubt on or aiming vitriol at the accusers can have consequences.

In 2005, when Mr. Cosby’s team denied Tamara Green’s accusations that he had drugged and sexually assaulted her in Los Angeles in the early 1970s, she did not pursue legal action. But this month she was ready to fight back. Mr. Cosby’s team had greeted her renewed claim of sexual assault by saying it was “a 10-year discredited accusation that proved to be nothing at the time, and is still nothing.” On Dec. 10, Ms. Green filed a defamation suit against Mr. Cosby, saying the denials basically branded her a liar.

“I want it put to a jury,” Ms. Green said earlier this month. “I want it ended, finally. I want my name restored.”

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