President Obama’s recent press conference at the East Room of the White House started with a clear goal in mind. After all, the previous day was “a historic day.” He proclaimed, “The comprehensive, long-term deal that we achieved with our allies and partners to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon represents a powerful display of American leadership and diplomacy.”
But it is safe to say that the focus (and hence, the goal) was just slightly outshined by another subject that has been going around media circles for some time now. And it all started with a question from White House Correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief for American Urban Radio Networks April Ryan.
As Ryan asked her questions to President Obama, she concluded it with a question that some people are probably wondering about. She asked, “Would you revoke the Medal of Freedom from Bill Cosby?”
The Medal of Freedom is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a civilian, regardless of their background or field. As President Obama puts it, the Medal of Freedom recipients “have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and world a better place.”
According to NBC News, Bill Cosby was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom back in 2002, way before the current controversies surrounding his life rose to the surface and caught much attention from the media.
According to a report from CNN, there over 20 women who have spoken out with regard Bill Cosby’s alleged sexual misconduct. They include celebrity and model Janice Dickinson, former Playboy bunny Victoria Valentino, model Beverly Johnson, Playboy bunny P.J. Masten, actress Louisa Moritz, Florida nurse Therese Serignese, Andrea Constand and many others.
At first, it was hard for Cosby’s friends to believe that the allegations are true, especially for Cosby’s “Cosby Show” co-star Joseph Phillips.
In a column on his website entitled “Of Course, Bill Cosby Is Guilty,” Phillips wrote, “As the accusations began to increase, I became increasingly disturbed. I was fairly certain that some of the women were lying through their teeth, but certainly not all of them. Discovering that the man you idolize may be a serial rapist is a bit traumatic. I don’t imagine it is anything near to the trauma of the alleged victims. Nevertheless, I found it unsettling.”
Philips then went on to describe his encounter with an old (woman) friend one afternoon, following the allegations against Bill Cosby coming out in the media. When he asked her about Bill Cosby, who was like a mentor to her. What happened next bothered Phillips a whole lot.
He wrote, “Through tears, she told me her story. She cursed him for violating both her trust and her body. She cursed herself for not being smarter, and for degrading herself in pursuit of success.”
Then, he added, “As I drove home, I battled my emotions. I felt for my friend, for the violation of her trust, loyalty, and body. I was angry with Bill. He had money, fame, and power; he was a walking aphrodisiac! Why? I was also angry at myself for falling for the okey-doke, of putting Bill on a pedestal. Something changed inside me during that drive; call it the last gasp of a mocking bird.”
Meanwhile, at the White House press conference, President Obama answered Ryan’s question straight to the point. He said that with regard to the Medal of Freedom, there actually is “no precedent in revoking a medal.”
Moreover, he added, “We don’t have that mechanism. And as you know, I tend to make it a policy not to comment on the specifics of cases where there might still be, if not criminal, then civil issues involved.”
Nonetheless, the President also shared his views on rape, “I’ll say this: If you give a woman — or a man, for that matter — without his or her knowledge, a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape. And I think this country — any civilized country — should have no tolerance for rape.”