Bill Cosby and a Journalist’s Dilemma

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Among African Americans six years ago, the Pew survey showed Bill Cosby was second only to Oprah Winfrey as a “good influence” on the black community. Cosby is enormously popular with all other Americans, too. But now his reputation may have been irredeemably tarnished by reports from 15 different women, with similar claims that he drugged and raped them over a period of some 30 years. Should his alleged transgressions have received more attention a long time ago?

Ta-Nehisi Coates is national correspondent for The Atlantic. In his first long-form essay for the magazine, in 2008, he profiled Cosby. He made what he now calls “a brief and limp mention of the accusations against Cosby,” and now regrets he didn’t do more -- because he believed them.




Warren Olney