The arguments go back and forth. Detractors of comedian Bill Cosby say he made his bed and should suffer the consequences.
Supporters argue that greed, extortion and a campaign to distort his legacy, by alleged racists, have destroyed Cosby’s career.
At the center of the controversy are the dozens of accusers. Some of the women, who sued Cosby and his legal team for defamation as the comedian defended himself publicly, lost those lawsuits.
The extortion, his supporters say, comes courtesy of Gloria Allred, a celebrity attorney who, in 2014, called on Cosby to put $100 million in a fund for the alleged victims and to let a panel of retired judges determine the truth about their claims, many of which allegedly happened in the 1960s and 1970s.
And claims of racism have mostly been directed at Hollywood and its tolerance for individuals like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen and Judd Apatow, who has been vocal in his condemnation of Cosby, even calling the “I-Spy” star “one of the most awful people you’ve ever heard of.”
Tanisha Jones, a New York fashion designer who works in the entertainment industry, called the allegations against Cosby, “an absolute intentional murder of his legacy.”
Jones, 28, said she feels for any woman who has been raped, assaulted or demeaned in any way.
“But, realistically, we have not seen evidence that any of this is true, yet we can’t watch his shows, which all have been groundbreaking and a boost and an encouragement to Black people,” said Jones.
“Yet, what we do see are other comedians going against Cosby with venom and attorneys like Ms. Allred asking Mr. Cosby for $100 million in what I think is nothing more than a shakedown.”
Allred has denied those claims. She told NBC that she thinks Cosby’s recent NNPA Newswire interview (which ran in the Defender) was an attempt to influence the jury pool.
“I expect Mr. Cosby and members of his family to continue to speak out in an attempt to portray him as a victim rather than as an alleged sexual predator,” Allred said.
Dr. Carolyn M. Byerly, a professor and chair of the Department of Communications, Culture and Media Studies at Howard University’s School of Communications, said Cosby’s early work clearly broke ground and should continue to be recognized.
However, the “deeply significant events of what appears to be his later life behavior, cannot be dismissed or trivialized,” Byerly said. “We do not know where things went wrong for Bill Cosby, but we have to listen to women who have broken silence, often with great emotional difficulty.”