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15 Times Bill Cosby Was a Huge Hypocrite

Comedian’s entire career is full of examples where his public statements stand in stark contrast to his alleged crimes

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Bill Cosby -- Air Date 08/01/2008 -- Episode 3599 -- Pictured: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs on August 1, 2008 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

Those of us who have been waiting since last winter for Bill Cosby to experience some legal retribution for the scores of sexual assault allegations against him are basking in a bit of schadenfreude this week. The comedian's deposition in the Andrea Costrand case – in which Cosby admits to giving at least one 19-year-old woman Quaaludes before sex – has been released to the public. In an especially satisfying twist, the Associated Press won its petition to have the decade-old documents unsealed for precisely the reason Cosby wanted them to remain private: They hurt his public image as a moral authority. Judge Eduardo C. Robreno declared that Cosby's self-appointment as a "public moralist" heightened public interest in the 2005 lawsuit, undermining his argument against releasing the documents.

Judge Rebreno cites Cosby's infamous 2004 "pound cake" speech as evidence of the comedian's belief in himself as a moral authority. But he could have gone even further back in Cosby's career to unearth tons of similar examples. In retrospect, Bill Cosby's entire public life provides a treasure trove of flat-out hypocrisy. Here are 15 of the most egregious moments when Cosby's actions and declarations stand in stark contrast to his alleged crimes.

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Bill Cosby -- Air Date 08/01/2008 -- Episode 3599 -- Pictured: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs on August 1, 2008 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

“Bill’s Two Daughters”

In 1971, Cosby recorded an album called For Adults Only. In this skit, he mines for laughs the well-worn trope of a father who worries over his daughter's future dating prospects because he remembers what a creep he was to other people's daughters in his youth. "I'm beginning to hate men," he quips, "because I know men. They're basically filthy and nasty and dirty. I know that. I used to be a man, before I got married."

According to his accusers, all of whom lodged their claims after Cosby married his wife Camille in 1964, he never gave up his particular brand of "manhood."

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Bill Cosby -- Air Date 08/01/2008 -- Episode 3599 -- Pictured: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs on August 1, 2008 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

“Illegal Drugs”

On 1978's Bill's Best Friend – Cosby's 17th comedy album – he lambasts cocaine and marijuana users, while making sure to emphasize that he's never tried either drug himself. Of cocaine, he says, "This is an illegal drug and therefore you are not sure of what you are getting."

Other people unsure of what they were getting: the dozens of women whom Cosby allegedly drugged.

bill cosby and lisa bonet

THE COSBY SHOW, Bill Cosby, Lisa Bonet, Season 2, 1984-1992. © Carsey-Werner/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

Carsey-Werner/Everett

Cosby Takes on Lisa Bonet

The 1987 film Angel Heart marked the first public clash between Cosby Show actress Lisa Bonet and her onscreen dad. In this Ebony magazine cover story, Bill Cosby makes several paternalistic comments about Bonet's decision to appear in the psychological horror flick, including a rather smug dismissal of the film itself, stating that he hadn't seen it because "That film doesn't offer my appetite anything." That same year, to promote the film, Bonet appeared nude on the cover of Interview magazine. When asked his opinion on this (itself a strange and awkward interviewing choice), Cosby said that after he'd heard negative comments from several people about the image, "I just took it nice and easy and then one day I saw it on the newsstand and I bought the magazine. I looked at that picture and I said, 'There's nothing wrong with it.' It wasn't anything gross."

How magnanimous of him to declare that there was "nothing wrong" with Bonet exercising bodily agency. (Bonus squick factor: that cover story is interrupted by an unfortunately placed JC Penney ad. The copy reads, "When you grow up I hope you meet someone just as sweet as your daddy.")

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Bill Cosby -- Air Date 08/01/2008 -- Episode 3599 -- Pictured: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs on August 1, 2008 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

‘The Cosby Show’ Season 6, Episode 12: “Getting to Know You”

During The Cosby Show's eight-season run, Cliff Huxtable established himself as a father who preferred grilling his daughters' suitors about their sexual activity rather than talking to the daughters themselves. Here, this patronizing tactic is aimed at Martin (Joseph C. Phillips), the new husband of Denise (Bonet): Cliff grills him on whether or not the couple had premarital sex.

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Bill Cosby -- Air Date 08/01/2008 -- Episode 3599 -- Pictured: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs on August 1, 2008 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

‘The Cosby Show,’ Season 5, Episode 12: “Truth and Consequences”

In another episode, Cliff pulls the same routine with Vanessa's (Tempest Bledsoe) high school boyfriend, Jeremy (Christopher Carter).

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Bill Cosby -- Air Date 08/01/2008 -- Episode 3599 -- Pictured: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs on August 1, 2008 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

‘The Cosby Show,’ Season 2, Episode 11: “Denise’s Friend”

In this much earlier episode of the show, Cliff counsels a sexually active girl (Stacey Dash) to be open and candid with her parents about her physical choices and concerns. Cliff hand-wrings over how he'd hope his own children would come to him, no matter what. (If the allegations against him are true, many children's parents have been told about his assaults against them, and he's done everything in his power to deny and quash their stories.)

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Bill Cosby -- Air Date 08/01/2008 -- Episode 3599 -- Pictured: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs on August 1, 2008 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

Cosby and Tyson

Cosby's own daughter, Erinn, claims that she came to him with an accusation that boxer Mike Tyson attempted to rape her in 1989, and that Cosby convinced Tyson to commit to psychological counseling in lieu of pressing charges. Tyson reportedly agreed to the counseling – but in this 1992 clip on the Donahue show, Erinn admits that she doesn't believe Tyson ever followed through. The interview is disturbing on a few levels: For one, Bill Cosby is praised for "using his influence" to negotiate this counseling deal, even though if Tyson never got counseling, nothing at all was done to hold him accountable for the alleged sexual assault he committed. Another creeptastic moment: Phil Donahue continually refers to Mike Tyson as "The Champ" while interviewing Erinn.

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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Actor Bill Cosby during the 2008 MusiCares Person of the Year Honors Aretha Franklin at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 8, 2008. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)

Lester Cohen/WireImage/Getty

“We Protected Our Women”

In a 2008 piece at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates covered one of Cosby's "call-outs," a nationwide moralizing tour that followed the initial "pound cake" speech. This particular call-out was held in Detroit. In it, Cosby waxes nostalgic for a bygone era when "We protected our women and protected our children." Those words have a new sting in light of the accusations against him.

bill cosby

THE SECOND BILL COSBY SPECIAL -- Air Date 04/09/1969 -- Pictured: Comedian Bill Cosby -- Photo by: Fred Sabine/NBCU Photo Bank

Fred Sabine/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

Role Model

In a 1969 Playboy interview, Cosby talked about how he planned to leave show business to become a teacher because poor kids lack good role models. "I plan to teach in a junior high school, which is where kids become glandularly aware of being male and female," he said. "Early adolescence is a very difficult time of life for ghetto kids, because people to look up to, like I said earlier, are scarce in a poor neighborhood. . .I'd want to show kids there are black heroes to be proud of, so they have a different kind of cat to look up to. Because, let's face it, most of the black people we admire are running that race or hitting that ball or dribbling it down-court. And so black girls hope to marry a guy who'll become a professional athlete."

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Bill Cosby -- Air Date 08/01/2008 -- Episode 3599 -- Pictured: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs on August 1, 2008 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

“Lying”

In the intro of this episode of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Cosby appears in live-action footage as himself and claims, "If you start broadcasting lies, pretty soon, nobody believes anything you say." Given how often he and his lawyers have attempted to defame his accusers and prove that they are lying, that 1970s lesson appears to be one he still holds close.

Bonus: The song featured in this episode, "Don't Go Telling a Lie" boasts the following spot-on lyrics: "When you think about it, lying doesn't take much skill/But it's kinda like a snowball, rollin' down the hill/It just keeps gettin' bigger and harder to stop/And when it blows up in your face, tell me who comes out on top? Not you!"

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Bill Cosby -- Air Date 08/01/2008 -- Episode 3599 -- Pictured: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs on August 1, 2008 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

“Be Aware of the Danger”

So many of Cosby's discussions of drug use include commentary about lack of awareness of a drug's effects or harm, which now seems all the more chilling, given how many women report that Cosby drugged them unaware or offered them a pill without disclosing its real name or intended effect. In this 1970 anti-drug PSA, Cosby cautions against taking speed: "You may be taking some now and not be aware of the danger. . .Don't guess about drugs when you can have the facts."

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Bill Cosby -- Air Date 08/01/2008 -- Episode 3599 -- Pictured: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs on August 1, 2008 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

‘Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs’

Cosby won a 1972 Best Recording for Children Grammy for this spoken-word album about the perils of drug use, featuring tracks like "Bill Talks About Pushers," "People Make Mistakes," and "I Know I Can Handle It."

bill cosby

THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Air Date 10/13/1989 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor/comedian Bill Cosby during an interview with host Johnny Carson on October 13, 1989 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

“Tough Love”

When Cosby's own daughter struggled with drug addiction in the 1980s, he called her selfish. In a 1989 interview with the LA Times, he defended his "tough love" approach in response to her battle:

"This particular daughter appears to be the only one who is really very selfish. It isn't that we hang our heads or that we're embarrassed by this, because we've been living with this person who knows that her problem isn't cocaine or alcohol. I think that she's a child who has refused to take responsibility for supporting herself. . . She never finishes anything. She uses her boyfriends. She wants the finer things but she can't stand anybody else's dirt, which is important. Developmentally, she's still around 11 years old. The problem isn't alcohol or drugs – at the rehab center her urine showed up negative. It's behavioral. She's very stubborn."

1989 is the same year Erinn talked to her father about the Mike Tyson encounter.

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Bill Cosby -- Air Date 08/01/2008 -- Episode 3599 -- Pictured: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs on August 1, 2008 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

“You’ve Got to Speak Up”

In this televised "call-out" from 2006, Cosby first asks for the families of gun violence victims to state the names of their deceased loved ones, then reclaims the podium to chastise the audience for their silence in the face of crime: "I just want all of you to understand that this is not that difficult. Somebody somehow has talked you into keeping your mouth shut." He continues changing the subject from silence on crime to silence on teen sexual activity: "You've got to speak up. You've got to take your 13-year-old daughters in a room – or 12 or 11, whatever the age is – and you've got to explain to them that they can't do this sexual thing. They can't afford it."

Here, it's clear that Cosby believes the onus should be on young women to avoid engaging in sexual relationships – which, of course, would be impossible to do if they were drugged and raped by someone like him.

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Bill Cosby -- Air Date 08/01/2008 -- Episode 3599 -- Pictured: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs on August 1, 2008 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

What’s Real?

On a Today Show segment celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Cosby Show, the comedian noted that critics praised white shows like Roseanne and The Simpsons for showing "real" families – leaving the implication that The Cosby Show didn't do the same. The entire Cosby cast has always been vocal about how groundbreaking their work was in bringing a realistic depiction of the black middle class to mainstream America. Indeed, the Huxtables were relatable in many ways, and the situations they faced were, in many instances, realistic. But it's important to note that while Cosby was so committed to bringing a "real" family to the screen, his offscreen life was also real – and, according to his many accusers, it was as deplorable as the Huxtables' lives were honorable.

In This Article: Bill Cosby

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