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Members of press issue mea culpas on botched Bill Cosby coverage

Frank Scotti says he made regular payments to eight women in the 1980s

 

Some members of the press who covered Bill Cosby over the past 40 years are now issuing mea culpas, saying they failed to follow up on the many accusations leveled at the comedy legend over the years.

Bill Cosby’s official biographer Mark Whitaker says he was wrong in not addressing the numerous allegations of sexual assault leveled against the comedian. Whitaker’s admission comes on the heels of New York Times columnist David Carr taking to task a number of writers – himself included - for turning a blind eye to the claims.

 “We all have our excuses, but in ignoring these claims, we let down the women who were brave enough to speak out publicly against a powerful entertainer,” Carr wrote. “Mr. Whitaker has said he didn’t want to put anything in the book, which he wrote with Mr. Cosby’s cooperation, that wasn’t confirmed — which of course raises the question of why he wouldn’t have done the work to knock down the accusations or make them stand up.”

Whitaker took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to respond to Carr’s column, admitting he should have investigated the allegations more thoroughly.

@carr2n David you are right. I was wrong to not deal with the sexual assault charges against Cosby and pursue them more aggressively.

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— Mark Whitaker (@Marktwhitaker) November 24, 2014

@carr2n I am following new developments and will address them at the appropriate time. If true the stories are shocking and horrible.

— Mark Whitaker (@Marktwhitaker) November 24, 2014

Indeed many media types are copping to inadequacies in covering Cosby in the past. New York Post columnist Richard Johnson says a tabloid ran a story about Cosby’s daughter that was given to them by Cosby himself, instead of a running a story about Cosby’s alleged infidelities.

Johnson said the story comes from a tabloid journalist he's known for years, who was working for the National Enquirer in 1989, when Cosby was at the height of his fame. Johnson said his fried was working on a story to run in the Enquirer about Cosby “swinging with Sammy Davis Jr. and some showgirls in Las Vegas.”

When the paper contacted Cosby for comment on the story, the reporter says the comedian offered them another one as a trade. That story was about Cosby's 23-year-old daughter daughter Erinn's battles with drugs and alcohol.

“My editor told me that daddy Cosby was the source," the source told Johnson. "He ratted out his flesh and blood.” 

Cosby himself was also quoted in the Enquirer’s item about his daughter, saying: “Deep down inside, she knows we love her.”

Cosby, 77, has been publicly accused by at least 18 women of sexually assaulting them or attempting to sexually assault them over the past four decades. His lawyers have denied the claims and called many of the women liars and opportunists. Cosby refused to address the stories in recorded interviews with the Associated Press and National Public Radio. He told the publication Florida Today: "I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn't have to answer to innuendos."

But despite the denials, venues on Cosby’s tour are dropping like flies…

A performing arts center in Green Bay is the latest to cancel an appearance by Cosy. The Weidner Center provided no explanation for canceling Cosby's April 12 show, but said any tickets purchases made by credit card would be refunded by Dec. 10.

WLUK-TV  reports the center says the show will not be rescheduled.

Performances in Oklahoma, Nevada, Illinois, Arizona, South Carolina and Washington have also been canceled. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.