What will the media do now about ongoing abuse?

By Barry Goldstein

Cosby biographer sorry for not pursuing rape claims

Whitaker’s book has gotten good reviews (USA TODAY’s reviewer gave it four out of four stars, describing it as a “cogent” definition of “Cosby’s artistry”), but others had questioned Whitaker’s choices even before the resurgence of the sexual abuse allegations in recent months. Whitaker himself was a newsmaker in his day: He was the first African-American to lead a major news magazine.

USA TODAY columnist Michael Wolff wrote in September that Whitaker “not only seems out to protect Cosby, but, further complicating the tale, to be threatened by him. Cosby is said to have made it clear to Whitaker and his publisher, Simon & Schuster, that he would sue on the slightest provocation.”

Carr also called out journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, who skimmed over the allegations in his 2008 Cosby profile in The Atlantic. Last week, Coates expressed regret, again in The Atlantic, calling himself “reckless” for failing to write what he believed at the time he wrote the profile — that “Bill Cosby was a rapist.”

“The subject (of the profile) was morality — and yet one of the biggest accusations of immorality was left for a few sentences, was rendered invisible,” Coates wrote. “I don’t have many writing regrets. But this is one of them. I regret not saying what I thought of the accusations, and then pursuing those thoughts.”

The Cosby scandal is just the latest example of the media finding excuses to remain silent while influential men abuse women and children.

How about the Catholic Church child sexual abuse scandal?

How about the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal?

How about the cover-up of rape on college campuses?

How about the custody court scandal?

How about the schools where child sexual abuse was covered up?

How about the child sexual abuse scandal in the Boy Scouts?

How about our continued tolerance of domestic violence when we know how to prevent it?

How about the cover-up of rape and domestic abuse by college and pro athletes?

How about allowing 25% of our children to be sexually abused by the age of 18?

How about the media doing its job and protecting victims instead of powerful men?

I was interested to read a story about a journalist who wrote a biography about Bill Cosby and is now apologizing for failing to pursue stories about the many women he allegedly raped or assaulted.  Other members of the media similarly accepted blame for failing to pursue this story much earlier.  I am sure they are sincere, but the failure is part of a far larger pattern of avoiding and minimizing numerous stories and scandals in which millions of women and children have been abused by powerful men.  A number of women who have come forward to report Cosby’s abuse have fared poorly in their lives.  This is not surprising as sexual and other abuse frequently lead to health problems and poor choices.  This is true of the many other scandals that have been hidden or minimized from the general public.

Some of the scandals like those in the Catholic Church, Penn State and Boy Scouts have now been reported.  Others like the ongoing rape problems on college campuses and abuse by college and pro athletes is now starting to be covered.  Many of the other scandals still need to be exposed.

Every year in the United States, 58,000 children are sent for custody or unprotected visitation with dangerous abusers.  In a recent two year period, we found news stories about 175 children murdered by abusive fathers involved in contested custody.  In many cases the court provided the access needed for the father to kill his child.  Although deliberately false reports by mothers of child sexual abuse occur less than 2% of the time, 85% of these cases result in custody for the alleged abuser which means the courts are sending many children to live with their rapists.  A single year of child abuse costs the US $500 Billion.  We are spending $750 in health costs related to our tolerance of domestic violence.  We have many better uses for this money and the Quincy Solution offers proven practices that would dramatically reduce domestic violence crime.  The US Department of Justice recently released the groundbreaking Saunders’ study that demonstrates why the custody courts so frequently fail to protect children under its authority.  They are relying on professionals who do not have the specific training they need to recognize and respond effectively to domestic violence.  As in so many other scandals, court professionals find it hard to believe that men who are successful in other parts of their lives could be abusing women and children.  It’s so much easier to disbelieve women and children then protect them from hideous abuse.

There are millions of women and children impacted by these hidden scandals.  I receive calls and emails every day about the unspeakable suffering they go through during and after the preventable abuse.  During this holiday season which is supposed to be so joyful, mothers and children are kept separated to punish mothers for reporting abuse.  The courts have to do this because they cannot admit their mistakes even after good research came out that explains why they got the cases so wrong.

When it comes to a scandal in which women and children are horribly abused, the media’s failure to expose the scandal continues to be the norm rather than the exception.  If they are genuinely sorry to have allowed the Cosby scandal and so many others to continue years after it should have been obvious, I know a lot of women and children who need their help.