POLITICS/ART/MEDIA: Bill Cosby, controversy: "An art loan from Bill Cosby draws the Smithsonian into a national debate" ....
* Washington Post: "An art loan from Bill Cosby draws the Smithsonian into a national debate" - From the WP:
Bill Cosby’s interview with an Associated Press reporter, filmed Nov. 6 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, shows power and privilege in operation. After reporter Brett Zongker asked the comedian about allegations that he had raped or sexually abused women, Cosby suggested that such questions were irresponsible. He and his wife had chosen to sit down with the AP, he said, because they thought the AP was a reputable news organization and would not dig into those unpleasant accusations.
Cosby tried a classic power play, hoping to intimidate the reporter into suppressing the video: “I think if you want to consider yourself to be serious, that it will not appear anywhere,” he said to Zongker. After making this equation — between reportorial seriousness and deference to himself — Cosby asked David Brokaw, his longtime media representative, who was standing off-camera, to get on the horn to the AP and do everything possible to ensure that the videotaped encounter was “scuttled.”
Zongker, who covers art and cultural issues in the nation’s capital, deserves credit for asking the hard questions. “It was his duty to ask the question as a reporter and journalist,” said Lou Ferrara, an AP vice president whose purview includes entertainment news.
Cosby may have hoped that as an arts reporter, Zongker would limit his inquiries to art matters. Arts reporting is often assumed to be soft reporting, a feel-good beat on the edge of the real news business. Sometimes this is true, especially on television, where stories about the arts are vanishingly rare and almost always are used as inspirational postludes to the main event, which is all about strife, mayhem and the downward spiral of civilization.
But Cosby’s effort to hold the hard questions at bay also was premised on assumptions about the larger field of arts and culture. . . . . . . .
He was sitting in a museum, at the Smithsonian, surrounded by his own art, in the midst of being feted rapturously for having lent his collection.........................................