Bill Cosby did not want to talk about rape with the Associated Press. That much he made clear in an interview with AP arts reporter Brett Zongker, who interviewed Cosby and his wife, Camille, upon the opening of an exhibit of their collection of African American art at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. During the November 6 interview, which took place at the museum, Cosby rejected a question from the reporter about the allegations of sexual assault that have lingered over the popular performer—and national father figure—for nearly a decade.
“There’s no response,” Cosby tells Zongker during the filmed interview, which the AP released in its entirety on Wednesday. Seated in front of Henry Ossawa Tanner’s powerful 1894 painting, "The Thankful Poor," Cosby appeals to the reporter after the interview concludes (with the tape still rolling) to omit any discussion of the allegations of sexual assault. When that doesn’t appear to work, Cosby tells someone off camera, “I think you need to get on the phone with his person [Zongker’s employer], immediately.”
Now it’s the Smithsonian that doesn’t want to talk about rape. Through a spokesperson, both the National Museum of African Art and the larger Smithsonian Institution declined to discuss allegations from as many as 15 women that Cosby drugged and raped them. Two women, Joan Tarshis and model Janice Dickinson, have come forward with their accusations since the November 9 opening of “Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue.” A third woman, Therese Serignese, said yesterday that Cosby drugged and raped her when she was 19.