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Will Bill Cosby Rape Charges Sink Netflix’s Challenge to HBO Comedy?

Bill Cosby, pictured here performing at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. in September faces multiple allegations of rape, going back decades.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Bill Cosby, pictured here performing at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in September, faces multiple allegations of rape, going back decades. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Just when the boys at Netflix thought they had HBO right where they wanted ’em — just days away from challenging HBO’s dominance in comedy with a legendary Bill Cosby special — yet another woman comes forward and accuses Cosby of rape.

At this point, if you’re Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, shouldn’t you seriously consider pulling the plug on the Cosby train before it leaves the station?

Aside from the fact that a comedy special by an accused rapist might make watching it an entirely unfunny experience, not to mention turn the event into a study in duality, wouldn’t it be worse if they air the thing and members show their disdain by boycotting it entirely, or worse, cancelling their subscriptions?

Lord knows, Netflix could do without another 50 percent drop in its stock price.

Keep in mind, it’s not as if there’s only one accuser. This is not a situation where a disgruntled ex or a vindictive lover is trying to exact revenge.

A recent article posted on HuffPost by Maureen Shaw puts the total number of women accusing Bill Cosby of raping them at an astounding 13. And now, former actress and Cosby protege, Barbara Bowman has given scathing interviews on CNN and The Washington Post.

It would be pretty arrogant and foolish of Netflix to just ignore the issue in the hope it will go away — especially since publicist Joan Tarshis has just come forward as alleged victim number 14. Though, that seems to be NBC’s plan at the moment regarding their upcoming project with The ‘Cos.

Meanwhile, Cosby has decided to answer these accusations by not answering them. He’s cancelled several talk-show appearances, been the subject of the Internet’s version of “Pie in the Face” and has refused to comment on the issue at all. I do not envy his publicist.

In this day and age, when a simple “Tweet” can get your upcoming appearance canceled, or even an entire series pulled (just ask Artie Lange or Cee-Lo Greene), shouldn’t having over a dozen women coming forward with virtually identical stories of sexual abuse, drugging, threats and accusations of cover-ups by dozens of hangers-on in Cosby’s inner circle warrant the same?

Granted, the aforementioned tweets came directly from the individuals, themselves, so denying them was never an option. And there’s no physical proof that Cosby ever did anything to these women.

But, it’s just like the bishop in the Paul Newman classic, “The Verdict.” After his hospital is accused of negligence during a routine procedure that leaves a patient in a coma, he asks his attorney: “Do you believe her?”

In this case, it would be, “Do you believe them?” There are enough accusers in this situation to form a glee club.

Add to that the fact that Hastings is a male, and Netflix is facing an even slipperier slope. If Netflix had a female CEO, would she be more inclined to pull the plug than Hastings?

It may sound sexist, but the question ha whys to be asked: Why did it take a male to bring the accusations light? Netflix has no doubt spent millions of dollars in production and marketing so far; Would a female executive require less external pressure to abandon the pursuit of profit and err on the side of the accusers?

Let’s also take a moment to focus on the timing of these allegations; the Ray Rice incident is still fresh on everyone’s minds. The disgraceful way violence against women has been handled for the past several decades, not only in the sports world, but by the entertainment industry, is on everybody’s mind as well.

Don’t let it slip by that not only is Cosby being accused here, Bowman is also calling to task his agents, managers, lawyers, staff, etc., for aiding/enabling the situation while riding the gravy train of Cosby’s fame and fortune.


David Fagin

David Fagin

David Fagin is a New York writer, producer and musician. His resume boasts an incredibly diverse range of contributions, from top news sites such as Salon, AOL News, Yahoo and The Huffington Post to a wide-range of humorous entities such as The Onion, The Muppets, Comedy Central, Dennis Miller, and Howard Stern. He is fascinated by technology and social media and the seemingly love/hate relationship we have with the changing world. He is also a food snob.


Obviously, not everyone who worked with the man back then would have known if these alleged abuses were occurring, but, if they’re true, you know some of them had to.

And, while we definitely don’t want to become a society of “witch hunters” looking to form a lynch mob as soon as a finger is pointed, it’s tough to know where to draw the line.

In this situation, there appears to be enough consistency and corroboration of testimony that, even if it’s not possible to prosecute Cosby for his alleged crimes, his reputation can be given the death penalty.

Regardless of whether or not you believe Bowman and the others who’ve come forward, if Netflix does decide to go ahead and air Cosby’s special, and they’re lambasted for it, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves for its “‘Cos and effect.'”

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