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Brown: Cosby's ignorant message to "black media"

BY MARCUS BROWN | DECEMBER 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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Cultural icon Bill Cosby has been embroiled in rumors of numerous sexual assaults, and he has seen what was once a sterling reputation tarnished by alleged scandals going back nearly 40 years.

An African-American comedian, actor, and activist, Cosby has long been a household name with “The Cosby Show.” However, he has recently been accused by numerous parties of sexual misconduct in an entangled scandal showing no signs of dissipating anytime soon. In the midst of these allegations, Cosby has had little to say, but he did make one interesting comment about the media coverage of his predicament. Specifically, Cosby addressed the media coverage by African-American journalists.

The litany of sexual-assault allegations being leveled at Cosby are certainly not a racial issue, so it is curious to note that the racial aspect of the media coverage was a point of contention for Cosby.

According to a story in Page Six, Cosby urged “black media to uphold the standards of journalism” in addition to going in “with a neutral mind” when applying scrutiny to this recent scandal.

It is troubling for the subject of such controversy to assume such a bias and at the same make such an implication that his celebrity and race will somehow alter the perceptions of the people covering his story.

I would assume witnessing the slow destruction of your legacy can be traumatic, but it does not grant the right to belittle the journalistic integrity of an entire race. If anything, Cosby’s status will encourage diligence, because I would have to ask what journalist regardless of race would take pleasure in publicly beheading Dr. Huxtable, should there be any validity to the allegations against Cosby. Gossip mongering and shoddy journalism are valid concerns, but these are issues that extend across the board and should not be presumed by an entire race simply because of the subject matter being covered.

Cosby’s reputation may never recover from this, but that is not the fault of the people who have devoted their lives to covering the news. I am quite certain that the “black media” will have no problem standing above bias, and ultimately it is presumptuous and insulting for a celebrity of any race to take such a dismissive tone toward the press.

It may be a long while before the public will be able to confirm if there is any truth behind the accusations made against Cosby, but it is important to note that no one stands above the review of her or his peers. No amount of celebrity grants people the power to dictate how they wish to be perceived by the world or the lens through which they are viewed.    

I was brought up on reruns of “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World,” and I don’t particularly enjoy hearing stories of Cosby drugging and raping various women. At the same time, I know it is not my place to pass judgment, nor is it my place to speak definitively on events that I was not privy to. I do not know what Cosby did or did not do to those women. However, I can do my best to understand and analyze these allegations to the best of my ability given the resources available.

That is the job of a journalist, and intrinsic to that profession is the assumption that this task will be carried out without bias and partiality. For journalism to continue to be a relevant and functional mandate for society there must be adherence to integrity and honesty.

I think I can consider myself a member of the “black media,” so on our behalf, I would like to say thank you, Bill Cosby, for the reminder. Although, I  can’t say it was needed.


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