Bill Cosby’s problems aren’t going away. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, Temple University issued a statement that it was standing by Bill Cosby. No more.
Even though I have come to conclude that Bill Cosby has drugged and raped scores of women over the last five decades, I do like to strategize on how individuals and organizations can and should handle themselves in a crisis. I’ve concluded that PR Guru Howard Bragman is correct with his assessment that Cosby should simply shut up and disappear.
Let’s review Cosby’s options.
1. Cosby can go on the offensive, proclaim his innocence, and attack his attackers. The problem is that his defense isn’t striking anyone as credible. It’s simply not credible to anyone not on a Cosby payroll that 15 plus women would all come forward independently that Cosby drugged them and raped them, given that none of these women are looking for money and don’t seem to be angling for publicity that could in any way enhance their careers. Every ounce of Cosby putting forth his own innocence will be met with a pound of independent, credible women painting an even more lurid picture of Cosby. Almost any celebrity or politician can win a PR battle that is reduced to he-said vs. she said. But no one can win a he-said vs. she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, she-said….
2. Another option would be for Cosby to come clean, confess all, and beg forgiveness. He could go on Oprah and bare all of his sins. I initially thought this might be a good strategy, but I was wrong. If Cosby confesses to raping dozens of women, he opens himself to lawsuits from countless women. While the statue of limitations has passed of Cosby being tried and convicted for rape has passed, he would be open to a vast range of other kinds of law suits. If he confessed all, he would likely have to spend every last day of his time on earth in court and every last penny of his vast fortune on lawyers and damage awards. From Cosby’s perspective, option 2 can’t be seen as a very attractive option.
3. This only leaves a third option. As Howard Bragman suggests, Cosby should just “shut up and go home.” Specifically, Cosby should just retreat from public life and do the following:
A. No more standup comedy performances.
B. No more TV series or comedy TV specials.
C. No more media interviews (especially no more interviews)
D. No more serving on boards or advisory committees.
In this scenario, Cosby should buy a private island or at least hole himself up in a giant mansion/compound. He should remove all news channels from his cable TV packages. He should put blocks on his internet to keep news sites from being shown. He should instruct all servants who work for him to never mention the news or anything they see related to Cosby in the outside world.
A common complaint against people in public life is that they live in an insulated bubble. Well Cosby is someone who could and should enter a bubble, because it is the least awful potential reality for him for the rest of his life. And if he wants to make one last stab at making his image less awful, he should bequeath his entire fortune to women’s rape shelters, to be announced upon his death.