Sunny Hostin

Whoopi Goldberg Wants to Hear Bill Cosby’s Side of the Story

Photo by Heidi Gutman for ABC

by Matt Wilstein for The Daily Beast

The View host continued to distance herself from old friend Bill Cosby in the first episode of the new year. But she still expressed more sympathy for him and his wife, Camille, than they’re getting anywhere else these days.

The Daily Beast | January 4, 2016 - Aside from a handful of mostly anonymous truthers on the Internet, Bill Cosby has run out of prominent people willing to defend him in the public eye. And now that he has finally been charged with aggravated indecent assault, that fact is unlikely to change.

So what did one of Cosby’s most unabashed apologists have to say when she returned from a holiday hiatus to moderate The View on Monday? After introducing the segment on Cosby’s arrest, Whoopi Goldberg stayed mostly silent, leaving the heavy lifting to guest host Sunny Hostin, who spent time as a prosecutor of sex crimes before joining the TV pundit circuit.

Echoing last week’s powerful New York Daily News cover, Hostin said, “In this case it's not he said/she said. It's like he said/she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said.” As she explained, the other women whom Cosby “allegedly” raped can be called to testify to his modus operandi in this case, which only applies to one of the women.

After sitting idly by and watching as co-host Joy Behar briefly took on the role of Cosby defender, expressing shock over the fact that the other accusations against him could be relevant to his current charges, Goldberg jumped in with a question. “So what happens now, because there’s also talk of bringing Camille in,” she asked, referring to Cosby’s wife, “which I found kind of extraordinary. What is that about?”

Hostin clarified that Camille Cosby may be called to testify in a separate civil case brought against her husband by a number of women who claim he defamed them by saying they lied about the alleged assaults.

“That’s a good thing because everything gets aired out,” Goldberg said. But since Cosby has now admitted to paying women off and giving them Quaaludes, she wondered, “Do you think that this is being done to embarrass her?”

For Goldberg, these latest comments are far more cautious than the approach she took last summer, when more and more accusers started to emerge. “In America still, I know it’s a shock, but you actually are innocent until proven guilty,” she said on the show in early July. “He has not been proven a rapist.”

After receiving a deluge of criticism, she doubled down a day later. “Here’s the bottom line for me,” Goldberg declared. “It’s my opinion, and the American courts agree with me because still he has not been taken to jail or tried on anything. So back off me!”

In the days following, Goldberg took heat from the likes of John Oliver, Judd Apatow, and others for her refusal to believe the dozens of women who have accused Cosby. After learning that the statute of limitations had expired in nearly all of the cases, she finally started to change her tune. “If this is to be tried in the court of public opinion, I got to say all of the information that’s out there kind of points to guilt,” she admitted.

Goldberg’s point then was that since Cosby would likely never have his day in court, the best his accusers could hope for was the destruction of his reputation. And indeed, six months later, no one will ever see Cosby as the lovable father figure who made us laugh on a weekly basis again. Regardless of what happens in his current criminal or civil cases, his name will forever be associated with serial rape.

But now that Cosby will get his day in court, Goldberg still appears to be characterizing the situation as a net positive for the embattled comedian.

“Look, I’m glad it's happening because I sort of feel like whenever you have people saying this is what happened, this is what happened, this is what happened, I want the court—I want to hear it,” Goldberg said near the end of Monday’s segment. “I want the courts, I want everybody to be able to ask questions because we’ve heard a lot, but we have not heard anything from his side.”

Goldberg is right that we have “heard a lot” from the 50-plus women who have publicly accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. That is because they have slowly been willing to speak out against the comedian in solidarity with each other, despite the fact that most have nothing to gain from doing so.

The reason we have not heard anything from Cosby’s side is that he has been almost completely unwilling to defend himself and deny the claims being made against him. When he was confronted about the accusations by reporters from the Associated Press and NPR late last year, the comedian stayed silent and warned against the release of his non-answers. In the year since, he has still refused to sit down for any major interview on the subject.

Before thanking his fans in a post-arrest tweet over the weekend, one of Cosby’s only other public statements on the issue came in another message of gratitude on Twitter. This one to Whoopi Goldberg.

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