Bill Cosby’s Lawyer Says “Black Media” Quotes Were “Misconstrued,” Slams “Mean-Spirited” Commentary

Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby's lawyer issued a new statement to NBC News, saying that the comedian's comments about "black media" had been misconstrued, and slamming "mean-spirited" commentators Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Bill Cosby's lawyer is once again attempting to set the record straight. In a statement to NBC News on Thursday, Dec. 18, attorney John P. Schmitt said that the comedian's earlier comments to New York Post reporter Stacy Brown about "black media" were misinterpreted.

As previously reported, Brown called Cosby at his home on Friday, Dec. 12, to ask about the mounting allegations of rape and sexual assault against him. In response, the Cosby Show alum said, "Let me say this: I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that, you have to go in with a neutral mind."

The actor's quotes — his first in weeks — quickly made headlines. But Schmitt says the comments "continue to be misconstrued in a way that can only call into question the fair-mindedness of certain commentators." 

Schmitt went on to call out Brown for the way he handled the chat. "As previously noted, Mr. Brown identified himself to Mr. Cosby as a freelance reporter for a number of African-American media," Cosby's lawyer said in his statement. "To be clear, Mr. Cosby did not ask for special treatment from the African-American media. To the contrary, he asked that they adhere to journalistic standards and approach the story in a neutral manner — without a predisposition on either side of the story. It is of course what we would expect of all media."

Citing Georgetown University professor and MSNBC contributor Michael Eric Dyson as "perhaps the most egregious example" of "reckless" commentary, Schmitt added, "Dyson, who has been a persistent critic of Mr. Cosby's call for responsibility in the African-American community, has stated that Mr. Cosby's request for neutrality is part of what he calls Mr. Cosby's 'rape [of the] entire black community.'"

(In a discussion about the comedian on Wednesday, Dec. 17, Dyson alluded to Cosby's outspoken criticism of the black community in recent years, saying, "The very kind of man who would rape women, allegedly, is the same kind of man who will rape an entire black community, poor black people who are vulnerable before him, using his powerful foot to clump down on their necks.")

Schmitt told NBC News: "Mr. Cosby understands that Mr. Dyson does not agree with Mr. Cosby's views, but such mean-spirited and reckless rhetoric cannot go unchallenged by responsible people and journalists." (Dyson has previously criticized Cosby for his comments about personal responsibility, and even wrote a book, Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?.) 

Cosby, for his part, is remaining tight-lipped on the ordeal, but both his wife, Camille, and his daughter, Evin, have spoken out in his defense.

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