In an article that appeared in the New York Times Monday, titled "Calling Out Bill Cosby's Media Enablers, Including Myself," columnist David Carr takes several journalists to task for having written about Cosby without mentioning the well-publicized rape allegations against him. One of the writers Carr calls out, Mark Whitaker, wrote an almost 500-page authorized biography of the entertainer that came out in September, "Cosby: His Life and Times," without mentioning a single allegation.
Before penning the Cosby biography for Simon & Schuster, Whitaker was editor of Newsweek for seven years, NBC Washington bureau chief for almost four years, and executive vice president and managing editor of CNN for two years, from 2011 to 2013.
For someone with such a sterling journalistic reputation, it might seem odd that he would omit such basic information as the recurring rape allegations against Cosby in his biography. But Whitaker has said in interviews that Cosby was a sort of childhood hero and that he didn't want to write about allegations he "couldn't confirm independently." But Carr wrote that "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 Tuesday to admit he should have done his journalistic job. "David, you are right," he tweeted. "I was wrong to not deal with the sexual assault charges against Cosby and pursue them more aggressively."
In 2011, Carr was assigned a Q&A with Cosby for an article in Hemispheres, United Airlines' in-flight magazine. He wrote that he knew the editors of Hemispheres would not be keen on fact-checking the rape allegations for a brief article. "My job as a journalist was to turn down that assignment," he wrote. "If I was not going to do the work to tell the truth about the guy, I should not have let him prattle on about his new book at the time. But I did not turn it down. I did the interview and took the money."
Carr lauds comedian Hannibal Buress, whose standup performance calling out Cosby as a rapist in October caused the allegations to gain traction again in the media, leading accusers to come forward publicly. "In the end," wrote Carr, "it fell to a comic, not an investigative reporter or biographer, to speak truth to entertainment power, to take on the Natural Order of Things."
@carr2n David you are right. I was wrong to not deal with the sexual assault charges against Cosby and pursue them more aggressively.
â€” 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