The following is a transcript of Sirius-XM radio host Michael Smerconish’s interview Tuesday with Bill Cosby, who faces trial next month on three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault in connection with a 2004 case involving Temple University employee Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Michael Smerconish: Joining me now to explain why is Bill Cosby himself. Mr. Cosby, thank you for being here.
Bill Cosby: Good morning, afternoon.
Smerconish: Am I right you have not spoken publicly for over two years?
Cosby: This is true. I have not performed in over two years, I have not spoken at a graduation in two years or even to speak to an incoming high school freshmen or freshperson class to give them some idea of what they’re gonna face and what they ought to do.
Smerconish: So why now?
Cosby: Well as you’re listening to my daughter, she doesn’t mind listening to me, and I decided I think it’s time for me to do something so that the people who still have faith in me, the people who are still wondering what I sound like as opposed to the National Enquirer, which is very interesting reading when they write about me.
Smerconish: Your representative Mr. Wyatt has made available to me three different pieces of audio I will share with my audience, two of them are short statements of support from your daughters Erin and Enza and then the third is an interview that Erin conducted with you. That’s what I was just playing from, I’m told that she was using questions from a documentary filmmaker named Michelle Major. What is it that you hope to achieve with the release of this sound?
Cosby: Well it’s something that says, something that says well here he is, this is what he’s saying, and he’s not been put in a position of negative speech, and I think that’s very very important, because there are things that have been taken off of entertainment so to speak, so that people really don’t have any sort of chance to do anything except perhaps in their own home. It’s, to hear Bill Cosby is sort of like, just a silence, it’s a closet with nothing in it.
Smerconish: The interview with Erin I think is about an hour and 22 minutes long, and I listened to the whole thing. I would describe it as friendly banter between father and daughter, much of it focused on your background, like the story of making your own football out of newspapers. Is it your hope jurors will hear this?
Cosby: You can’t aim at jurors. Look, I talk to my daughter. We have four, and Ennis was alive then, and one of the most important things that I found quite interesting was when they were all in the car with me, in Philadelphia, years and years ago, that I drove them on 10th street to Parish and said this is where we moved from Steward street which is 28th and Ridge, and then I explained the bathtub and the water and the stuff, and these kids started to, these are my children, and they started to almost boo me. You’re just trying to make us feel guilty so we will study, and I think that now that she’s, she’s in her (indecipherable) years old, she, she really appreciates hearing that and I think that Philadelphia, I always talk about Philadelphia, if it’s in my records, if it’s in my monologues. It’s important to me because that’s the, the connection. Philadelphia, growing up in Philadelphia, being with people that are now named Fat Albert, etc.
Smerconish: None of the conversation from you discusses the upcoming trial? Why not?
Cosby: No, no, no, no. That’s not something that any smart person would want to do.
Smerconish: Well let me ask one question. Do you expect to testify on your own behalf at that trial?
Cosby: No I do not.
Smerconish: Are you at liberty to discuss any of the allegations that are pending against you?
Cosby: No I am not.
Smerconish: Let me go back then to the interview that Erin did with you, because I am intrigued by a number of aspects of it, but in particular, the last question that Erin asks you, and I’m gonna play it, but here’s the question, she says, essentially dad, what do you most want to be remembered for and you say this. (Plays audio clip). What do you mean by that, to give back all the things they rescinded?
Csoby: Well, things were rescinded and I’d like to get those things back because the people who decided to make that decision then saw they made a mistake.
Smerconish: And you mean by virtue of what you’re going through now, facing this impending trial, the things that have been taken away from you, you’re looking forward to having them restored, and that’s what you would most hope to be remembered for?
Cosby: Well I don’t know if it’s hoped, but, look when people ask you what would you like to be known for, what is your legacy, what is this and that, it has never really really been something at the front of the lobe. I just think that now in this time, we are looking at law, and not things, I mean proof has to be brought to the front, period. And within the parameters of whatever you guys, I understand you’re a lawyer, and boy, the education I’m getting is absolutely fantastic. The old saying, there are two sides to every story unravels when you’re dealing with lawyers.
Smerconish: Erin provided a tape, Ensa provided a tape, each is about three minutes long, and Erin said something intriguing on tape and I’d like to play it for her dad and see what he thinks.
(Audio Clip) Erin: What my father and family had to endure these last few years makes me ashamed of our country today. I cannot understand how our society has permitted my father to be condemned so unjustly and cruelly in the court of public opinion without evidence or proof and with no verdict or judgment. Like the cruel history of our people, the legal system and the protections of the law do not seem to exist for him today.
Smerconish: Does dad agree with daughter?
Cosby: You have me in a position where I would have to say I cannot say so that I can make my lawyer happy, because she said a lot of things, and that is her opinion. I mean the beauty of this is the sound of my daughters because you know our family, the mother and just yesterday of course was mother’s day, and to deal with the daughters and the way they feel because many many things have happened to them coming from the attacks at me. And it’s very very important to know that for instance, in show business, in show business I think that, and celebrity, I think that these are the areas where we can be attacked, and people can walk away saying things and there’s an old show business, an old show business saying, look it doesn’t make any difference as long as they spell your name right. Well I wanna raise my hand and say I would like to really debate that strongly.
Smerconish: What was it like on Mother’s Day at the Cosby home?
Cosby: Aw man, it was different. I, I had a certain meal set up and it came. It was already cooked, similar to Meals on Wheels, no, but it’s already set up and I kept it from her. Now I’m unsighted, but I was able to very quietly, meaning without her knowing, set this stuff up and the people wrote out the instructions beautifully, and then all of the daughters are out with their friends and whatever, and they sent the flowers and they’ve all called, and I just told them, you know I pretended I was Michael Jordan, I said just back off. And then she came down and she read the note and she smiled and everything there was, it was just perfectly done, and it’s exactly what she hasn’t had in a long time, and it’s done the way she loves it. And so we ate that together, and we had our wonderful wonderful conversations and laughs and then she read some of the things that were sent to her, and of course when people started to say how strong she is and how wonderful she is, you know I said well those people are doing that because they feel sorry for you, and that’s when things started, they were removed from my plate, until I apologized.
Smerconish: Have you at any point in the last two years lost her support in what you’re going through?
Cosby: Never, never.
Smerconish: Enza delivered a statement of her own, and that’s something else that’s been provided to me. Here’s just a short clip from what your daughter Enza had to say.
(Audio Clip) Enza: I strongly believe my father’s innocent of the crimes alleged against him, and I believe that racism has played a big role in all aspects of this scandal.
Smerconish: Do you agree with that?
Cosby: Could be, could be. I can’t say anything, but there are certain things that I look at and I apply to the situation, and there are so many tentacles, so many different nefarious is a great word, and I just truly believe that some of it may very well be that.
Smerconish: But your accusers are both black and white?
Cosby: Well, let me put it to you this way. When you look at the power structure and when you look at individuals, there are some people who can very well be motivated by whether or not they’re going to work. Or whether or not they might be able to get back at someone, so if it’s in terms of whatever the choice is, I think that you can also examine individuals and situations and they will come out differently. So, it’s not all, not every, but I do think that there’s some.
Smerconish: You reference being unsighted. How’s your health?
Cosby: My health is good. I am well. The glaucoma has been known to me for decades, many many decades, and it is now that I am, after my exams, I have been registered, I am registered in Massachusetts as legally unsighted, and trust me, I have some bumps on my forehead and in eyebrows that prove that there’s certain things that I have walked into.
Smerconish: Is this a coming out of sorts for you? I’m listening very carefully to everything that Bill Cosby has to say and I recognize you’ve not spoken publicly in more than two years. Is this a one and done, or is our conversation the first of what will be a number of public conversations that you’re looking forward to having?
Cosby: That, I’m afraid, depends on the outcome of many things. Certainly with media, they certainly want me to address things that I feel happen to be very premature. I also feel that there are many filmed things and writing as well that people can take what you say and insert it and it will mean something altogether different and I think that many times, a person in the position I’m in will find himself or herself not enjoying that which was written, but then the excuse always comes back, well my editor did this, and my producer, it wasn’t my fault, but I think they all knew what they were going to do, so yes, it will happen and it should happen, but I will ask this question. If no matter what happens, if a man is then free to go where he wants to go, free, within the law to do what he wants to do, and he offers himself in concert for people to buy tickets, why would people threaten the hall, threaten the people who booked the show when in fact the people who are coming are those who are buying tickets, so these people are saying he has or she has, the people they want to bar has no right, no right whatsoever to be appearing in this place.
Smerconish: Are you telling me that if and when you’re exonerated, you want to be able to perform and you want people to recognize whatever the outcome will be of this trial?
Cosby: That too is sort of very interesting, because I, you know if a jury says so forth and so on, there’s still public opinion. And if jury comes for the other side of the so forth and so on, it’s still public opinion. So I think it’s something that you never will be able to satisfy all minds and all behaviors. I know the side that I’m on and the side that I’m hoping for, and after that, there’s more work to be done. But, I still feel that I have an awful lot to offer in terms of my writing, in terms of my performance.
Smerconish: I heard you when you said earlier in the conversation that you need to be mindful of the wishes of your attorney. But you also told me that you won’t testify on your own behalf. Don’t you want to testify and tell your story?
Smerconish: Why not?
Cosby: Once again I go back to lawyers and this morning when you have to deal with examination, cross examination, etc., more than two sides to every story sometimes, it’s four or five. And what people want to say, or want you to say and how they maneuver and yes I do have lawyers that protect me, I have objection, sustained, but I just don’t want, I just don’t want to sit there and have to figure out what I believe is a truthful answer, as to whether or not I’m opening a can of something that I, my lawyers are scrambling.
Smerconish: Ok, again respecting the fact that your lawyers have probably tried to put some parameters on that, what you say and don’t say, I hope you’ll indulge me and answer this one direct question, because I hear it from many, what do you say to the person who puts credence in the charges against you because of the number of women who’ve come out and said a similar thing?
Cosby: I think that the numbers came because the numbers prior to the numbers didn’t work. So the piling on so to speak is a way and certainly an impressive way to get public opinion, to come to the other side.
Smerconish: Are you telling me that they’re all lying?
Cosby: You know better than that.
Smerconish: Meaning you can’t answer that question or you won’t answer that question?
Cosby: I won’t and I cannot answer that, it’s really not fair and you know that because all I have to do is say something similar to that and the next thing I know, the postman is carrying a big bag or whoever it is saying defamation, defamation, defamation.
Smerconish: Alright, let me ask you this, and by the way I am appreciative of being gracious with your time and speaking to the extent you’re permitted by counsel, by my count, we’ve been speaking for about 25 plus minutes and my intention is to play this interview uncut, entirely, nobody’s gonna edit anything and thank God for Sirius XM for that. Is there anything else that Bill Cosby wanted to make sure that he said on what I’ve characterized as a coming out of sorts because I want to give you the opportunity to do that.
Cosby: I want people to understand that the, my work as an artist, a performer, I owe a great deal to people who saw things in me, and in many ways, in many ways, I returned the favors, and Gloria Steinem had a very interesting quote. She said the truth shall set you free but first it might piss you off. And I’ve said a lot of things to people, trying to give them the truth, trying to motivate them and move them in a direction away from apathy sometimes, sometimes away from fear, sometimes to guide them into strength and a belief in what they fear about themselves, and I’ve taken some hits from people who are supposed to be watching out for people like this. And I do feel that right now, right now as I speak to you, I want to get back to the last (unclear), enjoyment of things that I’ve written and things that I’ve perform on stage, and then I want to take other things and move it to halls, churches, etc. to give what I feel will be motivational, and informational and drive people to make changes in themselves, the home life, because the one quote that I sustained is the revolution is in the home.
Smerconish: One last point if I may Mr. Cosby, I did mean that would be my final question but now you’ve said something that provokes a thought on my part, when you speak of your desire to be out there and talking about change that’s necessary on the home front and so forth, the way you just put it, it reminds me of that decision in this case, and again maybe perhaps counsel won’t allow you to answer this, you’re in the position that you’re in today because a deposition that you gave a decade ago in a case that was settled came back to haunt you, and it came back to haunt you because a federal judge said I’m paraphrasing, if Bill Cosby is going to be out there on his soapbox, speaking about moral virtue, then it’s fair for this deposition to be used against him. From a legal standpoint, I thought that was a wrong decision, and I said so at the time. Do you want to comment on that underlying decision which played a pretty significant role in the position in which you find yourself?
Cosby: I have an emotion about what the judge did, and I’m still very much confused about how that came about and caused whatever is happening today.
Smerconish: In other words, you thought you had a deal, that case was over, and the facts of it were done?
Cosby: No (laughter). It’s the way it was put out and the way many people saw it and you just said it and I think, I think the safest way to put it is I agree with you.
Smerconish: Thank you for giving a half hour of your time.
Cosby: Yeah, I just hope I’m not in trouble now man.
Smerconish: Well I appreciate the questions that you were able to answer, and I appreciate you doing it on Sirius XM POTUS channel.
Cosby: Well I want to thank Sirius XM very very much, they’ve allowed me to do some things I remember Jeff Foxworthy called me when a lot of this stuff was flying about and Jeff interviewed me and all we talked about was comedy, that’s all we talked about. And other places had shut me down, shut me off, gone, but Foxworthy was there recording me. Thank you.
Smerconish: Thank you Bill Cosby.
Cosby: All right sir.
Smerconish: Thank you.
Michael Smerconish is also the host of CNN’s “Smerconish” on Saturday mornings.