Bill Cosby, once America’s favorite dad, and his PR nightmare

NBC, Netflix and TV Land cut ties with the comedy legend following allegations he drugged then raped multiple women 20 years ago.

By Adam Farragut
Posted on Nov 20, 2014 - 5:10pm

Bill Cosby PR

Bill Cosby was a top earning celebrity in the late 80s. He was poised for a comeback when allegations resurfaced.

The dominoes are falling in the the world of Bill Cosby, once known as America’s favorite dad.

Netflix has postponed a planned concert that featured the comic legend.

NBC announced that a family program that featured Bill Cosby was no longer in development.

And TV Land scrubbed from its lineup the 80’s sitcom The Cosby Show, which, of course, starred Bill Cosby.

It’s been quite a meltdown for Bill Cosby, the 77-year-old father of five who was the go-to product pitchman for Coca Cola, Kodak and most notably Jell-o pudding.

Bill Cosby, who has amassed a fortune estimated at $350-million, has not been charged with a single crime and he’s not been convicted of anything.

Though he may have a legal problem down the road, he’s currently facing a major public relations crisis.

“Bill Cosby may be an icon but he faces threats to his legacy and may never work again,” says Glenn Selig, a crisis management expert with the strategic public relations firm The Publicity Agency, which represents businesses, professionals and high net worth individuals (HNWI). “Bill Cosby’s world is crashing down around him and the stories about him raping multiple women are running rampant. He’s got about as serious of a PR problem you can get.”

That concert on Netflix was slated to run on Thanksgiving. It was taped on Cosby’s 77th birthday.

NBC had hoped Bill Cosby might help revive the fledgling network which he helped catapult to huge ratings with The Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992.

“Though the star has vehemently denied most of the accusations that he drugged and sexually assaulted young women seeking career guidance, the stories are taking their toll on his reputation and bankroll,” observed CNN.

CNN then lists all the women who have come forward, claiming that Bill Cosby drugged them, then raped them.

With rape allegations against Bill Cosby mounting, supermodel Janice Dickinson tells ET in a new interview that the comedian sexually assaulted her in 1982.

In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight, supermodel Janice Dickinson tells ET that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted her in 1982.


Dickinson is now now 59 and says Cosby reached out to her and asked her to travel to Lake Tahoe to make a job offer. She says he gave her a glass of wine and a pill, which she was told would help her stomach pains.

“The next morning I woke up, and I wasn’t wearing my pajamas, and I remember before I passed out that I had been sexually assaulted by this man,” she tells ET. “… Before I woke up in the morning, the last thing I remember was Bill Cosby in a patchwork robe, dropping his robe and getting on top of me. And I remember a lot of pain. The next morning I remember waking up with my pajamas off and there was semen in between my legs.”

Marty Singer, Cosby’s lawyer, issued a statement after Janice Dickinson went on TV to talk about her allegations:

“Janice Dickinson’s story accusing Bill Cosby of rape is a lie. There is a glaring contradiction between what she is claiming now for the first time and what she wrote in her own book and what she told the media back in 2002. Ms. Dickinson did an interview with the New York Observer in September 2002 entitled “Interview With a Vamp” completely contradicting her new story about Mr. Cosby. That interview a dozen years ago said “she didn’t want to go to bed with him and he blew her off.” Her publisher Harper Collins can confirm that no attorney representing Mr. Cosby tried to kill the alleged rape story (since there was no such story) or tried to prevent her from saying whatever she wanted about Bill Cosby in her book. The only story she gave 12 years ago to the media and in her autobiography was that she refused to sleep with Mr. Cosby and he blew her off. Documentary proof and Ms. Dickinson’s own words show that her new story about something she now claims happened back in 1982 is a fabricated lie.”

Check the hashtag #CosbyMeme that was launched by Cosby’s PR team and you can see how something that was intended to be positive has backfired.

An interview that Cosby gave to The Associated Press a couple weeks ago, during which he was asked about rape allegations and he responded that he doesn’t talk about that, today released a clip of an interview it taped on November 6. It’s all over the news now.

“No, no we don’t answer that,” Bill Cosby calmly recites to The Associated Press. “There’s no response. There is no comment about that.”

So now what for Bill Cosby?

PR expert Selig says without knowing the truth, it’s difficult to suggest what Bill Cosby ought to be doing to manage the PR crisis.

So far, Selig says, remaining silent is clearly no working.

“His team may be hoping the next big story comes along and this goes away,” says Selig. “This story is too big for that. Now it’s his legacy that’s on the line. If he wants to protect that legacy he may need to start talking.”

Originally from Atlanta, Adam Farragut has bounced around the southeast United States for most of his life. A proud Golden Knight, he graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in political science, emphasizing comparative politics and international relations, and a marketing minor.