Bill Cosby responds to rape allegations in painfully awkward interview

By Kirstin Buick
20 November 2014

This is closest Bill Cosby has come to addressing the new flood of rape allegations he's been confronted with over the past few days.

Earlier this month, Cosby was asked about the growing furor by an Associated Press reporter when the comedian was promoting an exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art that features the comedian's African-American art collection alongside African artworks.

When the AP interviewed Cosby, on 6 November, the story involved long-circulated accusations from several women and recent criticism from comedian Hannibal Buress. Cosby declined to comment, saying "We don't answer that."

The AP mentioned the allegations and Cosby's decision not to comment at the end of its story, which, like the interview, was primarily about his loan of more than 50 artworks to the Washington museum.

Since then, two women have come forward publicly to accuse him of sexual assault, Netflix, TV Land and NBC cut ties and an appearance on "The Late Show With David Letterman" was canceled. In recent days, as the allegations gained increasing attention, AP went back through the full video of the interview and decided to publish Cosby's full reaction to questions about the claims.

The AP was among a handful of news organisations granted interviews with Cosby in connection with the art exhibition. After his initial refusal to comment - as the interview was winding down but with the camera still running and Cosby wearing a lapel microphone - the comedian asked the AP to not use the brief on-camera refusal to comment he had just made about the allegations. "And I would appreciate it if it was scuttled," he said.

The interview was on the record. The AP had made no agreement to avoid questions about the allegations or to withhold publishing any of his comments at any time.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art has not changed its plans for the show, which opened this month on the National Mall and is scheduled to remain on view through early 2016.

"The exhibition has been very well received. We've actually had record numbers through the door," spokesman Eddie Burke said, adding the museum has had no complaints.

With sexual assault allegations gaining increasing attention, The Associated Press reviewed an on camera interview with Bill Cosby earlier this month and made the decision to publish his full reaction to questions about the claims.

-- KIRSTIN BUICK & SAPA

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