It was perhaps the most significant dead air in the history of National Public Radio: Bill Cosby’s refusal to answer “Weekend Edition Saturday” host Scott Simon’s question about rape allegations. Here’s NPR’s transcript of Simon’s interview with Cosby and his wife Camille:
SCOTT SIMON: “This question gives me no pleasure, Mr. Cosby, but there have been serious allegations raised about you in recent days.”
BILL COSBY: [SILENCE]
SIMON: “You’re shaking your head no. I’m in the news business. I have to ask the question. Do you have any response to those charges?”
SIMON: “Shaking your head no. There are people who love you who might like to hear from you about this. I want to give you the chance.”
SIMON: “Alright. Camille and Bill Cosby. They have lent 62 pieces from their collection of African and African-American art to create an exhibit called Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue. It’s now on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art through early 2016. Thank you both.”
As the media — including The Washington Post’s Sarah Kaplan and Jessica Contrera — tried to explain why Cosby is again facing old allegations, Simon was explaining exactly what Cosby’s silence was like.
“He gave what I would refer to as that delightful, impish little kind of Cosby smile, at first, and then was silent,” Simon told CNN.
The radio host speculated that Cosby’s handlers thought NPR would go easy on the man known as “America’s Dad.”
“I believe they said things like, ‘You know, you guys are so classy, you don’t dip into the muck and the mud and the way the rest of the people do,'” Simon said, putting on what can only be characterized a generic showbiz insider’s accent. He added: “Maybe they thought we couldn’t use silence on the radio.”
Here’s the CNN video.
On Sunday evening, in a series of tweets, Simon elaborated on Cosby’s reaction.
“I did not see Camille Cosby’s reaction because I looked directly at Mr. Cosby,” Simon wrote. “That question was for him alone, not her.”
Simon said he would not have hesitated to ask former president Bill Clinton about similar allegations “if warranted.” Simon added the allegations are relevant, despite the statement Cosby’s counsel posted on the comedian’s Web site.
“The charges against Mr. Cosby have not been ‘discredited’ as his atty suggests,” Simon wrote. “There were out of court settlements.”
The radio host said the question was inevitable.
“Once charges publicized, we could not duck asking,” he wrote. “We even felt he might welcome the chance to say, ‘It’s not true.'”
Indeed, Simon gave himself credit for asking.
“It did not take courage to ask question @BillCosby,” he wrote. “I’ve covered 10 wars & Chgo City Council. I just did what I should.”
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