© 2024 University of Missouri - KBIA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

NPR's Scott Simon questions Bill Cosby

NPR’s Scott Simon asked Bill Cosby some pointed questions about allegations waged against him, but were the questions about sexual assault allegations or something else? Missouri School of Journalism professors Earnest Perry, Mike McKean and Amy Simons discuss the issue.

For more follow Views of the News on Facebook and Twitter.

With allegations of sexual assault reemerging against Bill Cosby over the past few weeks, many of us have been reminded he isn’t the affable Cliff Huxtable he played on TV.

More than a dozen women have come forward, accusing Cosby of raping them since the 80s.  Last week, Barbara Bowman wrote an Op-Ed published in the Washington Post detailing her experience.

While Bowman has done several national interviews since her piece ran, Bill Cosby has done just one – with NPR’s Scott Simon.

During an interview with Cosby and his wife Camille about their recent art donation to the Smithsonian, Simon asked Cosby if he had any response to the "serious allegations that have been raised" about him. Simon went one to repeat the question, adding "I'm in the news business. I have to ask the question."

Professor Earnest Perry said Simon was right to ask Cosby about the issue.

"There's no way that he could not have asked that question. Talking about another topic does not automatically mean that he can't address something that's out in the national media."

CNN and several other media outlets have been discussing the NPR interview not because of the question Simon asked but the way that he asked. Simon did not say the words 'rape' or 'sexual assault' which prompted some news organizations to say the NPR host was too easy on Cosby. But Professor Mike McKean said the question was a smart move for the NPR host.

"He didn't have to say the word 'rape' to make it clear to everybody exactly what he was talking about. I think the fact that he was so deferential and respectful actually had more impact, especially when I think Cosby miscalculated in deciding how he was going to respond to it."

When Simon asked Cosby about the allegations, Cosby simply shook his head and remained silent. As Cosby refused to answer, Simon voiced the comedian's reaction so that listeners would understand what was happening during the weighty seconds of silence. This refusal to say anything about the allegations sparked commentary in many newsrooms and Perry said it was a serious misstep for Cosby.

"For him not to comment in any way, to have this silence made it even more damaging to any kind of case that he might want to bring in the future."

As the media continues to talk about the multiple allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby, some journalists have not been as respectful as Scott Simon. In an interview on CNN, Don Lemon suggested to one of Cosby's accusers that she could have fought against the comedian's assault, saying "You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn't want to do it."

McKean said that it was ridiculous that Lemon would even bring up the topic.

"It seemed so vulgar and inappropriate, I think everybody was kind of taken aback for a bit."


Related Content