Cosby For Concern | Crooked Media
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July 01, 2021
What A Day
Cosby For Concern

In This Episode

  • Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court set Bill Cosby free on a technicality after he served part of his sentence for three counts of sexual assault. Back in 2005, when he was a local DA and before he was Trump’s defense lawyer, attorney Bruce Castor promised Cosby that nothing he said in a deposition for a civil case would be used against him in a criminal proceeding, and honoring that promise meant Cosby should never have been charged in the first place.
  • Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld died at 88 years old from multiple myeloma. He was responsible for countless war crimes in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, so it’s almost perfect timing that U.S. troops are set to withdraw from Afghanistan this very week following his death.
  • And in headlines: counting chaos in the NYC mayoral race, the U.S. State Department adds a third gender to passports, and Nikole Hannah-Jones finally gets tenure from UNC.






Akilah Hughes: It’s Thursday, July 1st. I’m Akilah Hughes.


Cleo Stiller: And I’m Clio Stiller, in for Gideon Resnick.


Akilah Hughes: And this is What A Day the podcast strives to always be covered in beach sand.


Cleo Stiller: Yeah, this news will always feel gritty and dirt-caked, and that’s the way we like it.


Akilah Hughes: That’s right. This podcast smells like suntan lotion. Or so I’ve been told, I’m Black. [laughs] On today’s show, the infamous legacy of the late Donald Rumsfeld. Plus, we’ll have headlines. But first, the latest


Cleo Stiller: And it’s a doozy. In a stunning reversal yesterday, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled that disgraced actor Bill Cosby should be free. This is a headline that really took almost everyone by surprise. But he walked out of prison after serving almost three years of a max 10-year sentence for being convicted of three counts of sexual assault. Now, I want to clarify that this reversal is happening over a technicality and that yesterday’s news does not call into question the actions that Cosby has been in prison for.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, super devastating. And, I mean, I haven’t fully processed it, quite frankly. But the reasons why he was released are pretty crazy and it has a lot to do with the lawyer who defended Donald Trump during the former president’s second impeachment trial. We’re talking about that a lot this week on the show. But Cleo, walk us through all that.


Cleo Stiller: Right. His name is Bruce Castor. And during that impeachment trial, he stood out at the time for some just very odd behavior and presentation. Let’s jog your memory with some of his best lines.


[clip of Bruce Castor] I saw a headline, Representative So-and-so seeks to walk back comments about—I forget what it was, something that bothered her. The floodgates will open. So I was going to say originally: it will release the whirlwind. But I subsequently learned since I got here that that particular phrase has already been taken. So I figured I better change it to floodgates.


Akilah Hughes: Oh my God. It’s like the bumbling idiot lawyer from 30 Rock. [laughs] Like what is happening? What is he talking about?


Cleo Stiller: I, to this day have no idea. Right? So I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there. But now we’ll connect Castor to the Cosby trial. So back in 2005, Castor was a district attorney in Pennsylvania when a woman affiliated with Temple University, where Bill Cosby was on the board at the time, she accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her. Now, at the time, and keep in mind, this is 12 years before #metoo to hit the mainstream. Castor didn’t think there was enough credibility for a criminal case. So when the woman filed a civil case against Cosby, Castor told Cosby whatever he said in the civil case would not be held against him and he was safe from criminal prosecution. Now, fast forward, a decade later, Castor is out of office and his successor, a man named Kevin Steele, did believe Cosby should have been criminally prosecuted. So Steele as the new D.A. files charges and Cosby was convicted. Since then, Cosby’s lawyers have been fighting this conviction and eventually took it to the state’s highest court. And that’s where we were yesterday. Right? So those justices ruled that Bruce Castor’s earlier verbal agreement with Cosby was a binding one and should not have been ignored. So they overturned the conviction.


Akilah Hughes: OK, so this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. So a man who was the D.A. made a promise to a man who he didn’t even believe was innocent about, you know, just not prosecuting him in the future. I mean, can he be retried at all?


Cleo Stiller: No, there are no silver linings to this news. So the justices were clear that Cosby should not have faced a trial in the first place because of that promise, and barred any future case against him with those same charges. But this ruling does not mean Cosby is innocent of what he was convicted of.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, obviously not. You know, just horrible and horrible to his victims. I mean, what’s been the reaction out there to all of this, Cleo? Because you literally wrote the book on modern manhood.


Cleo Stiller: You know, when you have 60 women coming forward against a single person like Cosby, the chorus is deafening. Right? And I think the fear for so many of us would be what message does this send to sexual assault survivors who already face so much backlash when they come forward and with such low conviction rates to begin with? But the one thing that is true about Cosby, about Harvey Weinstein, and about people in our everyday lives, Akilah, right, is that rumors swirl around about bad behavior all the time. And this is called a whisper network. And whisper networks are like icebergs. So by the time you’re hearing what you’re hearing, you’re just getting the tip. And what I hope the last several years have taught us is that not one of us can look away or stay out of it. We really all need to speak up. Turning to another top story, Akilah. This one made a lot of headlines yesterday as well.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, no one said it was going to be a slow news day. And If they had, they would have been wrong. So yesterday, a conservative who is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in two senseless wars because of another big lie the GOP sold America, Donald Rumsfeld, bit the dust on Tuesday at the too-old age of 88. The cause of death was the blood on his hands from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean, myeloma. My bad, it’s a type of cancer.


Cleo Stiller: Oooh, damn Akilah. I would not want to meet you at the pearly gates if I were Rumsfeld.


Akilah Hughes: Well, don’t worry. He won’t be. He won’t be at the pearly gates. [laughs]


Cleo Stiller: No, he will not be there. But listen, these wars have been going on the majority of both of our lives, and there end is thankfully on the horizon. But can you walk us down the memory lane of his legacy?


Akilah Hughes: For sure. So Donald Rumsfeld was a hard R Republican who counseled notable crook Richard Nixon, and he was a special envoy to the Middle East for Ronald Reagan. And back then, he was best friends with Saddam Hussein. But it was under George W. Bush as defense secretary that Rumsfeld famously claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in the year following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And because of that lie, and his lack of a plan to ever end that war, and his recommendations for literal war crimes and cruelty by way of torture at Guantanamo Bay, we are still paying for that war, and the actual human cost will never be recovered. In 2006, with pressure mounting on George W. Bush to fire him, Rumsfeld resigned first. Here he is back on that day.


[clip of Donald Rumsfeld[ It recalls to mind the statement by Winston Churchill, something to the effect that: I have benefited greatly from criticism and at no time have I suffered a lack thereof.


Akilah Hughes: Great. Well, even in his death, he can just expect more from me. [laughs] It’s never ending.


Cleo Stiller: Yeah. To have the confidence of a wealthy white man . . . my God.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, it’s pretty, pretty horrific. And, you know, he did get spanked a lot. Earlier that same year, the Supreme Court ruled the U.S. actually had violated the Geneva Convention because of the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo at the behest of Donald Rumsfeld. But does that sound like justice to you?


Cleo Stiller: No. Frankly, that sounds like early retirement to me.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, absolutely.


Cleo Stiller: So the timing of Rumsfeld’s death is interesting to, right? This week, the U.S. is set to complete its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.


Akilah Hughes: Right. Although a thousand troops could potentially remain to assist in securing the U.S. embassy in Kabul and the airport. But this quiet end of our presence there is bittersweet because our allies are returning home after fighting a war that had no resolution. And over those past several decades in Afghanistan, over 2,300 U.S. soldiers have died. Upwards of 43,000 Afghan civilians were killed. And America spent trillions of dollars, all for the so-called war that Rumsfeld helped to orchestrate. With that money, we could have spent it on things like COVID vaccines for every single person on the planet. And we’re talking about an end to poverty, childhood hunger, clean all the water in this country, actual infrastructure prioritization and thus more jobs throughout the economic recession of the early aughts, a rise in wages that could match the inflation rate, climate change mitigation—the list goes on and fucking on. So when I say good riddance, I’m saying that with the hard R. We’ll keep you up to date on the return of those troops. But that’s the latest for now.


Akilah Hughes: It’s Thursday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we’re talking about the end of a great contemporary mystery: the woman who caused a massive pileup at the Tour de France, the main character of the Tour de France, was identified and is undergoing police questioning in France after she fled the scene of the race in the accident’s immediate aftermath. As a refresher, the woman leaned out into the race area with a sign that read Go Grandma and Grandpa. It’s still not known whether her grandparents were even participants in the race, or if she was just cheering them on for watching it. We don’t know. One rider ran into the sign and dozens of others subsequently crashed. The sign-holding woman could reportedly face up to two years in prison and a fine of $35,000. So, Cleo, how do you feel about this now that we’ve reached the next stage of this epic story?


Cleo Stiller: OK, I just have to come clean that I have been playing the five-second footage of her getting smacked by the biker just over and over again. And it keeps recalling to my mind, you know, like we all had that friend in high school, or maybe you were that friend in high school, who would trip over their shoelaces or like you would be waving to someone, but they would see you and they would wave thinking that you were talking to them, but you’re really talking to someone behind them. It’s like that lovable idiot. I just—


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, bumbling.


Cleo Stiller: Yeah. So Akilah, I don’t know, how do you feel about this stage of the story?


Akilah Hughes: I mean, look, I do think that this is just a very clumsy person’s latest embarrassing act. I, I think it is weird to put this person in jail. Like, I don’t think that this person, based on the sign they were holding, it was made out of cardboard, a-hand scrawled, has 35 grand to be like: hey, guys, my bad, I was just shouting out my grandma and I didn’t know which way the bikes were coming from. Like, I think that the embarrassment of this probably is enough of a punishment, but they want blood and they’ll probably get it.


Cleo Stiller: All right. Well, she gets a pass from us.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah. Yeah. We’re sorry that you got so embarrassed. Thank you so much, though, for the hilarious content. It is wild. If you haven’t seen this footage yet, please watch it. Watch the aerial footage. Watch the front-facing camera footage. It is, it’s like if Americans home videos are just like the world home videos. This is—


Cleo Stiller: Yes, yes, yes. On a global scale.


Akilah Hughes: Truly, truly, second hand embarrassment. And just like that, we have checked our temps. Stay safe. Get out of the road.


Cleo Stiller: Just get out of road! Sit down.


Akilah Hughes: And we’ll be back after some ads.


[ad break]


Akilah Hughes:  Let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Cleo Stiller: The record-breaking heat wave has finally broken in the country’s Pacific Northwest, where in Portland alone, the thermostat dropped from 116 degrees on Monday to 64 by Tuesday morning. But the unprecedented temps that began late last week took a tragic toll on the region. In St. Paul, Oregon, a farm worker died on Saturday because of the heat, and the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death. While Oregon has a rule about workplace safety in hot weather, like water, shade and rest, it does not have a rule for worker safety when the heat is just that extreme. It may take months before the state proposes those specific guidelines. Authorities in Oregon and Washington say the heat could have caused dozens more deaths too. Now across the border in British Columbia, Canada, officials reported a nearly 80% rise in deaths this past weekend from what they typically see and are investigating how much the heat was a factor in those cases as well.


Akilah Hughes: So sad. According to a new State Department rule, Americans no longer need to show medical documents to declare their self-identified gender on U.S. passports. This is a major shift since previously a passport applicant would have to show a doctor’s note confirming their transition to change their gender on official documents. The new policy is part of Biden’s campaign promise to protect trans and non-binary people from employment, housing and voting discrimination if they do not have medical proof of their self-identified gender. Though the process will take a long time to complete, we can also expect to see gender markers on U.S. passports and citizenship certificates for people who do not conform to the gender binary soon.


Cleo Stiller: I just have to take a quick bit to say what a relief to hear news like that. In the previous administration, we’d never hear that, so . . .


Akilah Hughes: Right. It’s like a good news is so rare.


Cleo Stiller: Finally, finally. All right. And now New York City reminded us to never judge an election result by its cover on Tuesday by releasing preliminary voting tallies in its mayoral election that erroneously included 135,000 test ballots. The mix up—I know, what!?!—the mix up injected a jolt of drama into the election by showing a significantly narrowed margin between front runner and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and Katherine Garcia, a former sanitation commissioner. Ultimately, though, that result wasn’t far off. Yesterday, when corrected results were released, Adams still held only a slim majority in the final round of ranked choice voting with 51.1% to Garcia’s 48.9%. Now, here’s the kicker: the New York Board of Elections has historically struggled to minimize voting drama—and I can attest to that as a New York City resident—and this election has been no exception. Per the New York Times, the company that provided vote-counting software to the board made repeated offers to help make sure everything ran smoothly, while the board left those offers unread.


Akilah Hughes: Oh, my gosh. It’s like they just love failing. They love it.


Cleo Stiller: Are you kidding?


Akilah Hughes: Well, I mean, you know, just the biggest city in the country. No big deal. [laughs]


Cleo Stiller: The stakes could not be higher.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah. In a year like this, please just get the voting right. Well, conservatives who are suddenly obsessed with the new details of higher education watch out! Because award-winning New York Times writer and creator of the 1619 project, Nickle Hannah-Jones, was formally offered tenure yesterday by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, months after the school declined to consider her for it. Other journalists who have previously held Hannah-Jones’s future professorship at the school got tenure, so the university’s position on this issue was extremely suspect. Eventually, it came out that the opposition to Hannah-Jones’s tenure came from a major donor to UNC, who, much like our former president and countless others who have nightmares where they’re being chased by the words “critical race theory” was skeptical of the 1619 project. The actions of the school drew widespread condemnation from students, faculty and the journalism community at large. UNC’s board of trustees voted nine to four to approve tenure for Hannah-Jones yesterday.


Cleo Stiller: You think she’ll take it.


Akilah Hughes: I’m not sure, but I know the Black tenure matters. And those are the headlines.


Akilah Hughes: One more thing before we go: if you haven’t already, check out our new podcast, Edith, a scripted comedy starring Rosamund Pike. Edith explores the untold true-ish story of America’s first secret female president, Edith Wilson, the first lady to Woodrow Wilson. In this week’s brand new episode, a decades-old sex scandal emerges to the surface, and Edith is left with no choice but to meet Woodrow’s former lover face to face. New episodes of Edith are released every Thursday, and the first three are out now. So follow on Spotify, Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts.


Cleo Stiller: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, only count ballots that are real, and tell your friends to listen.


Akilah Hughes: And if you’re in the reading, and not just critical race theory with no fear like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Akilah Hughes


Cleo Stiller: And I’m Cleo Stiller.


[together] And don’t shake the sand off this podcast!


Akilah Hughes: It’s supposed to be there. We’re on the beach.


Cleo Stiller: I look better with sand.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, same. [laughs]


Akilah Hughes: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media.


Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.


Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon and Jazzi Marine are our associate producers.


Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran, Akilah Hughes and me.


Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.