TW: Mention of sexual assault and rape.

Sex offender Bill Cosby, once one of the most beloved men in America, was released from prison today.

The highest court in Pennsylvania threw out Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction because "the court ruled the prosecutor who brought the case was bound by his predecessor's agreement not to charge Cosby," according to AP News.

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Before his shameful fall from grace, Bill Cosby redefined the role of Black fathers on television.

Cosby's portrayal of Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show was groundbreaking. Cliff's occupation as a doctor was a refreshing departure from blue-collared blowhards like Fred Sanford and entrepreneurs with a Napoleon complex like George Jefferson.

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CULTURE

Snoop Dogg Needs to Delete These Posts About Gayle King and Bill Cosby

If he wants to redirect the conversation toward Harvey Weinstein, there are better ways to do it

Note: Since the time of writing, Snoop Dogg's original video that appeared to threaten Gayle King has been removed from his Instagram feed. The other posts mentioned remain intact.

Gayle King has received a lot of backlash following her interview with Lisa Leslie—the former WNBA Center and Kobe Bryant's close friend.

King has been attacked for a clip taken from the interview in which she asked Leslie to address the 2003 rape allegations against Bryant. While King has defended herself by saying that the clip was taken out of context to make the wide-ranging interview seem far more provocative than it actually was, there are many who find that defense inadequate. Even if you embrace the idea that the events in question have to be acknowledged as part of Bryant's legacy, there is something distasteful about the idea of forcing his close friend to confront the issue so soon after Bryant's tragic death. It's hardly surprising that the clip got so much pushback, but one person, in particular, has taken things way too far.

Gayle King and Lisa Leslie CBS This Morning

Snoop Dogg posted a video to his Instagram account last week with the fairly innocuous text "P.S.A. Let the Family Mourn in Peace." He included the heart and prayer hand emojis before continuing, "#gayleking outta pocket FDHBiiiych." In the video itself, Snoop claims that King is "way outta pocket," which is fair enough. Snoop has made it clear that he has a strong sense of connection to Kobe Bryant, and Gayle King's approach to the interview with Leslie clearly set him off. Where he started to go a little too far was when he clarified what "FDHBiiiych" meant in the text of the post. Apparently, Snoop has coined a new phrase in declaring King a "funky dog-head b*tch."

King's looks obviously have nothing to do with the issue Snoop has with her. Getting emotional and lashing out with personal attacks like that just makes him look petty and misogynistic, but if that were the only problem with the video, it wouldn't really be worth writing about. Unfortunately, things only get worse from there. The venom in his voice builds as he accuses King of trying to torch Bryant's reputation and target him instead of Harvey Weinstein, then he calls her a "punk mother*cker," and concludes with this threat: "respect the family and back off, b*tch before we come get you."

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There might not be any real intention of harm behind Snoop's words, but that's not the issue. At the time of writing, the video had about 2.6 million views, and nearly half a million people have indicated that they like it. Any one of those people might take Snoop's words as a sincere call to violence. King has reportedly received numerous death threats since the interview. Is Snoop really on board with that? Evidently not, as he posted a dubious clarification over the weekend, claiming that he "didn't threaten her," that he's "a nonviolent person," and that he "didn't want no harm to come to her," but the original video remains online, and has nearly twice as many views and likes as the follow up. If he genuinely wishes Gayle King no harm, he would have made it clear by deleting the original video, but that post remained up until Monday afternoon.

Snoop also made several other posts before issuing his clarification. And those posts only doubled down on his attack and got into even more disturbing territory. In one such post, invoking Gayle King's close friendship with Oprah Winfrey, Snoop posted a picture of Oprah smiling with Harvey Weinstein, building a case that Oprah and Gayle only criticize black men. The accompanying text attacks Oprah for her coverage of accusations against Michael Jackson by "lying ass kids," and refers to Weinstein as a "known rapist," though the image predates the public revelation of Weinstein's (alleged) pattern of horrifying sexual violence. Oprah has been such a prominent part of American media for so long that it's easy to find images of her smiling with almost any iconic celebrity—including Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and Bill Cosby… Cosby, in particular, is worth mentioning because of the way Snoop chose to close his post: "F*ck u and Gayle. Free Bill Cosby."

There is room for a conversation about a solitary rape allegation that was settled out of court. While the failure of the justice system to convict perpetrators of sexual violence is well-documented, adherents of the "innocent until proven guilty" mantra can make a case against dredging up one seemingly anomalous incident—even if Bryant's own apology acknowledged wrongdoing. But Bill Cosby is another case entirely.

60 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, and almost all of the incidents they described included the common element of Cosby using drugs and alcohol to facilitate his crimes. In 2018 he was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Bill Cosby should not be free.

It's understandable that people don't want to throw out the legacy of one of the first black men to gain mainstream acceptance in America—and Cosby's work as a comedian and an actor was hugely important to generations of Americans of all races. He was America's Dad. But all the while, he was abusing and victimizing women. His continued denial of guilt does not hold up under the weight of the consistent pattern that the accusations against him illustrate.

Bill Cosby was found guilty because he's guilty. Those who continue to defend him are implicitly attacking his victims and the credibility of victims of sexual assault generally. Bill Cosby and his advocates continue to erase the voices of his accusers—many of whom are black women—with claims that his prosecution was motivated by racism. Snoop fed into that narrative, and Bill Cosby was all too eager to jump on a new opportunity to defend himself in a tweet to Snoop, claiming that "successful Black Women are being used to tarnish the image and legacy of successful Black Men." Cosby followed up with a series of hashtags including #ThankYouSnoopDogg, and Snoop made another Instagram post in response, saying, "Love u uncle bill."

That is so far from acceptable. This is not "uncle Bill." This is not Cliff Huxtable. This is not even the man who told clean jokes about going to the dentist and criticized the vulgarity and "anti-woman messages" in music like Snoop's. Bill Cosby wore his public respectability as a shield against scrutiny and suspicion while operating as a zealous sexual predator for decades. You can not fight racism by erasing the voices and experiences of black women.

Cosby Accusers Cosby accusers reacting to his guilty verdict

More than 800,000 people have liked Snoop's "uncle bill" post, proving that there is still a big audience for denying Bill Cosby's guilt. All the more reason why Snoop needs to delete these posts. Whether he intended to threaten Gayle King when he insisted that she "back off… before we come get you," by defending Bill Cosby, he is implicitly endorsing violence against women and discrediting whatever point he wanted to make about King's interview with Lisa Leslie.

In his retraction video, Snoop closed with the claim that "We speak from the heart. Some of you who have no heart don't understand that." If he really wants to prove he has a heart, he can't only support black men—he needs to support and listen to black women, and he needs to delete these posts.

CULTURE

Harvey Weinstein Thinks He's a Feminist Icon

In a recent interview with The New York Post, Weinstein made it clear that he still thinks he can paper over his crimes.

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Imagine spending decades putting in hard work to cover your ass and make yourself look innocent, only for your horrific crimes to be exposed and all that hard work to be erased.

In his recent interview with The New York Post, Harvey Weinstein makes it clear that this wasn't the way things worked in Hollywood when he was coming up. "I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I'm talking about 30 years ago. I'm not talking about now when it's vogue. I did it first! I pioneered it!" Back then it was understood that every powerful producer was wielding his position to inflict himself sexually on every young starlet with the bad luck to find herself alone in a room with him. The "good ones" were the men who at least gave those women good roles after traumatizing them, and maybe produced some nice uplifting stories that sent good political messages. Real heroes...

weinstein shirt Not his real shirt... probably

Harvey Weinstein just wants to get back to the good old days and remind everyone how great his public persona was while he was (allegedly) terrorizing dozens of women in secret. Yes, he (allegedly) employed an assistant whose job was to lure women in with a false sense of security before leaving them alone with him. And yes, he also (allegedly) spent millions of dollars killing negative news stories and pre-empting legal cases that could arise from his (allegedly) assaulting and raping women on a regular basis. But what about the money he put into making Transamerica and the $10 million role he got for Gwyneth Paltrow years after (allegedly) attempting to force himself on her in a hotel room when she was only 22? What about that?

"If you remember who I was then, you might want to question some of this."

If you can just find it in your heart to ignore the overwhelming weight of his frequent and horrifying (alleged) predation of women whose livelihoods were subject to his whims, he actually did a lot of great things for women in Hollywood. If you can just tap into a deep well of forgiveness in order to focus on all the public work he wanted people to notice instead of listening to the dozens of women whom he (allegedly x 80) assaulted behind closed doors, that would be really great for him. And honestly, if we're all just willing to look at things through that lens, Harvey Weinstein would deserve some recognition.

"I made a success out of myself. I had no money, and I built quite an empire with Miramax and decided to give back,"


weinstein oscar Page Six

Unfortunately for Harvey, the professional virtue signaling that earned his films awards and made him the fortune he (allegedly) used to fund his toxic and evil (alleged) sexual crimes, wouldn't really amount to much next to even one credible accusation of sexual assault, let alone dozens. So while he laments feeling "like the forgotten man," that reputation is obviously far better than he deserves. People have forgotten all the nice things he did to get positive attention because we all prefer not to think about him at all. Because thinking about him requires thinking about the societal problems that allow a powerful man like him to maintain a glossy image while developing an elaborate apparatus to hide his (alleged) sexual crimes from the world.

Bill Cosby was "America's dad" for decades while drugging and assaulting young women. Jeffrey Epstein was once a celebrated "money manager," who may have built his entire career on sex trafficking. And Kevin Spacey was beloved by Hollywood primarily for his convincing portrayal of villains who could go undetected—in The Usual Suspects, Se7en, House of Cards—and is now conspicuously avoiding criminal charges for his many (alleged) assaults. Thinking about these men requires us to think about how power operates in our world. And while we, as a society, have made more of an effort in recent years to face those issues, our default is still to ignore them. It is all too tempting to look the other way.

spacey creepy Don't look away

So when Harvey Weinstein and Prince Andrew give interviews in which they try to paint themselves as heroes—a man "too honorable" for his own good, or an icon of feminist progress—they are giving us a gift. There is a dark comedy to watching these evil men clumsily articulate the personas they want to project—all while those shabby disguises rot and fall away. It makes it possible to look at them a little longer.

One line in the new interview tells the whole sad story: "I want this city to recognize who I was instead of what I've become." Who you were, Harvey, was a man living with many dark and horrible secrets, and what you've become is a man exposed. If it were only a work of fiction—a sick joke, rather than a sickening reality—it would honestly be funnier than any movie Harvey Weinstein ever touched.


prince andrew So honorable...


In the interview, Weinstein also wanted to highlight his very real medical issues and took the opportunity to make it clear that he is not playing up his ailments for sympathy. Good for you, Harvey. No one cares.

With the recent rejection of a $25 million settlement—which would have avoided any admission of guilt from Weinstein and prohibited other accusers from pursuing further legal action—we can probably expect Weinstein to continue whining and pleading and making his flimsy, pathetic case for himself. If you have it in you, try to use the comic absurdity of it all to help you stomach the nauseating reality of our society's many ills. If you can, try not to look away.

CULTURE

Bill Cosby Wants to Talk About Race: He Says His Jury Is a "Set Up"

The convicted sexual assaulter isn't backing down.

In 2018, Bill Cosby was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand—just one of five women who accused Cosby of sexual misconduct.

Cosby's lawyers have called these women "party girls," "pathological liars," and "robbers," claiming they're only in this case for potential financial gain. Though there have been years of rumors and allegedly dozens of victims, the famed 82-year-old comedian is still arguing that he's the victim in this situation and that the entirety of the case has been a sham. Recently, Cosby gave his first interview since beginning to serve his 3-to-10-year sentence in a maximum security penitentiary in Pennsylvania.

"It's all a set up. That whole jury thing. They were imposters," Cosby told Black Press USA.

Cosby received no special treatment during his interview. His spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, was also on the line, and Cosby's calls were limited to 15 minutes in accordance with the penitentiary's restrictions.

"It's all political," he argued. During his time in prison, Cosby has often spoken at meetings for Mann Up, an inmate reform program for African American men. In the interview, Cosby positioned his incarceration as an issue of racism and the disproportionate imprisonment of black people compared to white people. Though that gap is shrinking, the unfairness of the justice system against people of color is still a massive issue—however, for Cosby to blame his incarceration on race alone and continuously claim he's never committed sexual assault is entirely misguided and, frankly, disgusting.

We absolutely need criminal justice reform, especially as it pertains to race. But if Cosby wants to talk statistics, let's discuss how less than 5 percent of perpetrators in sexual assault cases get incarcerated. Let's discuss how about three out of four sexual assaults go unreported. And if Cosby wants to talk race in sexual assault cases, let's talk about how 22 percent of black women have been raped. Let's talk about the increased risk of domestic violence among black folks in the LGBTQIA+ community. Let's talk about sexual assault survivors like Cyntoia Brown, who at 16, shot and killed a man who picked her up for sex; she was tried as an adult and sentenced to life in prison. And let's talk about the exclusion of black women's experiences in studies of sexual assault on college campuses, and how these survivors are too often discouraged to come forward, especially if their rapist was a black man—largely in part to men like Cosby, who position it as a race issue in all the wrong ways.

CULTURE

Mitigating #MeToo: Why Hollywood Scandal Insurance Is a Dystopian Nightmare

Scandal insurance could negate production studios' entire incentive not to work with problematic stars.

Harvey Weinstein

Danny Moloshok/Reuters /Newscom

There's a burgeoning industry in Hollywood scandal insurance that aims to carve out a niche at the crossroads of #MeToo and capitalism.

The resulting "product" is nothing short of a dystopian nightmare that effectively removes the only incentive Hollywood has not to hire terrible people: losing money.

Case in point: Vulture profiled a Boston-based start-up called SpottedRisk. The company's business model revolves around massive data collection of the assorted "attributes" and "risk factors" of nearly 27,000 public figures. These data points include everything from a celebrity's past transgressions (i.e. allegations of sexual assault) to general "likability."

spottedrisk Lori Loughlin Paul Marotta/Getty Images

By assigning their data various numerical values, SpottedRisk asserts that they can predict a given celebrity's likelihood of facing a career-damaging scandal in the future. This allows them to "insure" Hollywood studios and production companies against scandals in the same way that other insurance companies offer coverage for natural disasters––or at least it will once they start getting clients.

The problem isn't one of practicalities; it's one of morality. While it's yet to be seen if any Hollywood studios will actually shell out the money for insurance of this nature (SpottedRisk's maximum payout of $10 million is low enough that it might not be worth it for bigger productions), the number of celebrities taken down by #MeToo for predatory behavior continues rising. Hypothetically, a market exists to serve production companies worried about their leading stars' buried skeletons.

One of the more troubling revelations SpottedRisk's data seems to show is that, in spite of social media backlash, many subjects of #MeToo haven't been hit nearly as hard as one might think. Aside from major targets like Harvey Weinstein and R. Kelly, most remain fully employable.

After all, although the #MeToo movement might seem like a never-ending series of bombshell accusations to the general public, many of the revelations had been open secrets in Hollywood for years. Even interns heard stories about Harvey Weinstein, and Max Landis was always a known creep. But until enough people felt empowered to out them publicly, studios continued working with them because their names held clout. It was only after being publicly outed that their names became dirt.

One of the biggest upsides to #MeToo is its preventative power. Historically, someone with as much earning power as Bill Cosby could get away with drugging women for decades while still being protected by the Hollywood system. Now, someone like Bill Cosby would be a major liability, regardless of whether or not the public knew his secret. In the age of #MeToo, working with a predator is a ticking time bomb. In an industry whose most powerful people already take constant advantage of anyone below them, this is a major improvement.

bill cosby Bill CosbyReuters

But scandal insurance would negate the entire incentive not to work with problematic stars. Currently, a studio might not hire a talented director known for molesting extras because they worry that if anyone comes forward, people won't go see their movie. It may not come from the kindness of their hearts, but the end result is still a safer industry wherein fewer people are getting molested. With scandal insurance, that incentive is gone. Presumably, a studio could hire that director, and if he got outed, oh well, they receive a profit through insurance instead.

Even worse, assuming that scandal insurance payout maximums could be raised in the future, hiring incredibly problematic people could even offer untold benefits. It's not hard to imagine a new form of insurance fraud whereby studios attach dangerous talent to not-so-great projects, break a scandal, and collect on profits that the actual movie might not have even generated. That's not to say that every celebrity accused during #MeToo should never be allowed to work again, but their predatory actions should rightfully give anyone pause before choosing to work with them.

Morality and capitalism rarely go hand-in-hand, and that truth pervades throughout Hollywood culture. #MeToo is the first movement in ages to question the foundation of that system. Now, scandal insurance threatens to undo all of that good work for a quick penny.