The sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby had already severely damaged his career even before The Associated Press revealed this week that he admitted under oath in 2005 to obtaining quaaludes to give to young women he wanted to have sex with. But now even the hangers-on are walking away.
A look at the efforts to erase Cosby, and who’s sticking with him:
MEDAL OF FREEDOM
Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment, a group supporting sexual assault victims, launched a campaign Wednesday to revoke Bill Cosby’s Presidential Medal of Freedom.
As of midday Saturday, more than 5,500 people had signed the petition posted on the White House’s “We the People” website. If the petition gets 100,000 signatures by Aug. 7, the White House will review it and respond.
President George W. Bush presented the nation’s highest civilian honor to Cosby in 2002, citing his revolutionary portrayal of blacks on television and his interest and dedication to education.
“Bill Cosby’s name does not belong among this distinguished list,” the group said.
Central State University, a historically black college in Wilberforce, Ohio, is considering changing the name of its Cosby Communications Center.
The Cosby family has donated more than $2 million to the school, the Dayton Daily News reported Thursday.
School officials earlier said the name would stay, but President Cynthia Jackson-Hammond said this week the name will be “discussed appropriately.”
The circumstances around Cosby are “troublesome and disappointing to all,” she said.
WALT DISNEY WORLD
Walt Disney World removed a statue of Cosby from its Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida after it closed Tuesday night, a spokeswoman said.
The statute had been at Disney’s Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza.
The Mural Arts Program in Cosby’s native Philadelphia is considering removing a work featuring the entertainer.
“Recent headlines” factored into its decision to move the mural much higher on a list of works up for decommissioning, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The mural celebrating Father’s Day features Cosby in a trademark purple sweater between South African leader Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
It went up in 2008 but had already been considered for decommissioning because the wall where it’s painted — under a train bridge — is in bad shape.
HOW INDUSTRY IS RESPONDING
NBC had already walked away from plans to make another Cosby sitcom, TV Land took reruns of the 1980s-era “The Cosby Show” off the air, and Netflix shelved plans for a standup special.
This week, the Bounce television network pulled reruns of the comedian’s CBS sitcom “Cosby.” The network, which is geared toward black viewers, had aired back-to-back episodes of “Cosby” each weekday.
And the smaller Centric cable network, which is affiliated with BET and aimed at black women, said it was dropping “The Cosby Show,” a big chunk of its schedule.
However, Hulu is still offering every episode of “The Cosby Show,” and Amazon continues to offer it streaming, along with DVDs.
WALK OF FAME STAR
Black civil rights leaders on Thursday called on the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to remove Bill Cosby’s star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, saying it could otherwise become a “walk of shame.”
“Cosby to black America is an icon, but once an icon figure betrays the trust of the community, we have to withdraw our support and condemn their actions,” said Najee Ali, who was among those calling for the star’s removal “If they don’t remove that star, we can call it the walk of shame.”
The chamber said it had no plans to remove Cosby’s star, and has never removed one before.
“Once a star has been added to the Walk, it is considered a part of the historic fabric of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Because of this, we have never removed a star from the Walk,” chamber president Leron Gubler said in a statement.
The Smithsonian Institution is standing behind a museum exhibition that relies in part on the art collection of Bill Cosby and his wife.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art opened the exhibition of African and African-American artwork in November.
The museum said Tuesday that it does not condone Cosby’s behavior but that the exhibit is about the artworks and the artists, not about the owners of the collections.
Project 21, a black conservative leadership network, on Friday criticized the federal judge who unsealed portions of Bill Cosby’s deposition.
The judge had said he unsealed the 2005 documents because local court rules favor transparency and because Cosby’s claims of embarrassment were insufficient legal grounds to keep them sealed.
He also said Cosby “voluntarily narrowed (his) zone of privacy” when he used the media “soap box” to comment on other people’s behavior.
But Cosby’s public statements about parenthood, crime and other issues shouldn’t have played a part in the decision, said Project 21, sponsored by the Washington-based National Center for Public Policy Research.
The documents should be sealed or unsealed based solely on “legal reasons, not due to Cosby’s beliefs,” the group said.
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