Bill Cosby, serving 3 to 10 years on a sexual-assault conviction, posted a Father's Day message Sunday night, keyed to the nickname given him during his time starring as family patriarch Dr. Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show."
"Hey, Hey, Hey...It's America's Dad...," the 81-year-old Cosby, who is incarcerated at a state prison in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, wrote on his social-media accounts. "I know it's late, but to all of the Dads... It's an honor to be called a Father, so let's make today a renewed oath to fulfilling our purpose — strengthening our families and communities.” Cosby and his wife, Camille, have three surviving daughters. His son Ennis was murdered in a robbery in 1997 and daughter Ensa died of renal disease in 2018.
In an accompanying minute-long excerpt from the 1968 CBS News documentary "Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed," Cosby, visiting a fourth-grade class, says to the camera, "After slavery was over, America kept breaking up the black man's family. And that's some awful history to teach. Now, if you want to look history right straight in the eye, you're going to get a black eye. … Now, this country has got a psychological history. There was a master race; there was a slave race. And though there isn't any political slavery anymore, those same old attitudes have hung around."
Reaction on Cosby's three mostly identical Twitter posts were overwhelmingly harsh, while Instagram comments were mixed and Facebook responses largely positive. TV producer David Simon ("The Wire," "The Deuce") tweeted, "Please stop," while other responders were more pointed. "Bill, my dad never roofied & raped anybody," tweeted one. "Hey, Hey, You're a rapist," wrote another. Many posted mocking memes.
Facebook, in contrast, was supportive of his sentiments. "You are a father figure to many of us who never had a father. Please stay happy, healthy, and safe. I wish we could get you out of there and back to your beautiful wife and family where you belong!" wrote one. "[Y]our TV shows and comedy albums were a balm to a kid looking for a father figure," wrote another. "What happened to you is a travesty Dr. Cosby."
Responding to early reports of the adverse Twitter comments, Cosby's representative, Andrew Wyatt, told Newsday, "Unfortunately, media focused only on a handful of negative comments, but refused to publish the thousands of positive comments, which shows that media is not objective but extremely biased when comes to reporting positive news on my client."
According to TMZ.com, Wyatt told the entertainment website that Cosby dictated the Father's Day message via phone call.
Following accusations by dozens of women of having drugged and raped them across several decades, Cosby in April 2018 was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault of a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.