In the midst of the swirl of bad news around Bill Cosby’s sexual assault allegations, he’s for the most part, remained quiet. But one enterprising reporter was able to get a scoop – and it came from an unlikely source. Stacy Brown, a reporter from the Black newspaper The Washington Informer, didn’t have to camp outside Cosby’s house or stalk him. He just called him.
“To my surprise he answered the phone, yes,” says Brown. “I’d say he was in a good mood. He didn’t act like he had a care in the world.”
Brown talked to him at first a year ago, and says that Cosby remembered him before he even gave his full name. Brown says he knew Cosby wouldn’t answer any questions about the allegations, but figured he might be able to get some comment from the legendary comedian.
“I had a goal,” Brown says. “He’s been married 51 years. I wanted to know how his wife was [doing.] No one’s was asking about Camille Cosby. How’s she doing? One thing about the Black press – especially The Washington Informer – is positive news. We stay away from the scandal. We were affording him an opportunity to speak to an audience or a news organization that’s not going to inject opinion.”
Brown says that Cosby’s statement that he expected the Black press to stay neutral has somewhat been taken out of context.
“I didn’t get that he was asking things of the Black press or the Black media in particular. He knew he was talking to a Black man. I think if he’d been talking to the white media, his message would have been similar. His message was just one of fairness.”
After Brown’s story ran and was picked up by the mainstream media, Cosby’s lawyer, John P. Schmitt, issued a strongly worded statement.
“On Saturday, the New York Post published an article by Stacy Brown indicating that Bill Cosby “broke his silence” Friday in a discussion with Mr. Brown. Various media outlets have reported on the story with the headline “Bill Cosby Speaks Out.”
Mr. Cosby and Mr. Brown did in fact have a telephone conversation. Mr. Brown identified himself as a freelance reporter for a number of African-American media outlets, which prompted Mr. Cosby’s comment regarding the African-American media.
Mr. Brown did not indicate that he was interviewing Mr. Cosby for publication, did not say that he was reporting for the New York Post, and did not tell Mr. Cosby that the conversation was being recorded. In a discussion of journalistic standards, Mr. Brown failed to adhere to the most basic standards of his profession.”
In response, Brown says that he records all his interviews.
“People always they are misquoted. I don’t want to misquote anyone,” Brown says.
He didn’t inform Cosby that he was being reported, but says that when talking to a reporter, you should assume that that is the case. He says that when Cosby was informed that The Informer had published stories quoting fans that supported him, Cosby told him he wanted to ensure Brown and the paper were “treated like royalty.”
Brown says with that in mind, that he was surprised by Cosby’s lawyer’s response and surprised by the response to the story, which was quoted in other mainstream media outlets, including The Associated Press. Brown did not initially think he even had enough for a story, but that the quotes he’s gotten have been used in stories for over 1300 media outlets, according to Google.
“He did say something about his wife and about the Black media. I do believe that he wants to talk.”