In a telephone conversation more than two years ago, Bill Cosby expressed his concerns about media coverage of the mounting allegations against him.
“Let me say this,” he said. “I only expect the Black Press to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind.”
Make no mistake, Cosby wasn’t asking for any special favors. His wish was that all media, not just those under the Black Press umbrella, would simply do what the public at large has expected of journalists since the beginning of time: fairness, balance and accuracy.
Shortly after Cosby’s comment, his wife Camille Cosby released a statement asking that the media at least “vet the stories of [her husband’s] accusers.”
Mrs. Cosby also wasn’t asking for special favors — she simply thought it important that we in the media do our jobs.
Throughout the course of both trials – the latter which has led to Mr. Cosby being convicted and sentenced to prison – the couple’s call for fair, balanced and accurate reporting has gone mostly unheeded.
Anyone attending the second trial knows that mainstream media fell far too short of fairness. Quite simply, there was a noticeable lack of balance and accuracy in the reporting.
This is why Mrs. Cosby has chosen the NNPA, the Black Press of America, to deliver an exclusive and unprecedented op-ed on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections.
And make no mistake about this either, because of the blatant and overwhelmingly irresponsible misreporting of facts like her husband’s infamous civil deposition and the twisting by some of Mr. Cosby’s words, Mrs. Cosby also held some reservations about speaking to the press because of her mistrust of the media in general.
After this reporter engaged in dialogue with one of her attorneys and held repeated conversations with the family’s trusted spokesperson, Andrew Wyatt of the Purpose P.R. Firm in Alabama, Mrs. Cosby decided now was the time to speak out to the Black Press.
With Tuesday’s midterm elections carrying such import, particularly African Americans and other minorities, Mrs. Cosby not only wanted to convey her thoughts about her husband’s plight, but she felt it critical and urgent that she reach out to voters – some of whom probably can relate to what she and her family are now going through.
For example, voters can decide the fate of judges through recalls and other efforts.
They can also vote in or vote out district attorneys who fail to uphold the principles of their office. Also, they can send a strong message to any particular judge by voting against the party of that judge or district attorney.
Mrs. Cosby has filed judicial misconduct allegations against Steven O’Neill, the Montgomery County, Pa., judge who presided over her husband’s trials. She has also cited the racist remarks during jury selection and the trial made by assistants to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.
With accountability, perhaps some of O’Neill’s rulings would not have been so controversial or so blatantly adversarial toward Mr. Cosby.
With accountability, perhaps some of the actions of Steele and his staff would not have occurred.
Perhaps O’Neill would have recused himself after the revelation of his conflict with former District Attorney Bruce Castor who had sworn in an affidavit that he made a deal with Mr. Cosby that should have prevented even the first trial from occurring.
In 2006, Castor and Mr. Cosby agreed that the comedian would waive his right against self-incrimination and sit for a civil deposition – a deposition that Castor agreed could never be used against Mr. Cosby in any potential future prosecution.
“Upon my review of the affidavit provided by Mr. Castor at minimum, taking what was sworn as true, I would suggest there is a clear concern,” Attorney Michael A. Walker said in an interview this week. Walker helms a law firm in Norristown near the courthouse where Mr. Cosby was tried and convicted of aggravated indecent assault.
“The Law and those protections that we are afforded through our Constitution are there to reach just decisions for each citizen,” Walker said.
“Irrespective of guilt or innocence our system of jurisprudence is grounded in the notion of fair play. Moreover, the law with regard for recusal is pretty settled, to wit if there is a reasonable question of the impartiality of the Judge then he should be disqualified,” he said.
“The law on disqualification goes further, stating that if the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party with personal knowledge of facts that are in dispute in the proceeding.
“It is hard to say what this will mean for Mr. Cosby’s appeal, but it is certainly something that should be reviewed because by the standards laid out above, again taking what sworn as true, what happened in that case didn’t meet the fairness test.”
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., president and CEO of the NNPA, stated, “We value the opinion and timely call to action to vote from Mrs. Camille Cosby. We note with appreciation that she trusted the NNPA to publish her op-ed.”