Jonathan McDaniel at The Point:
As a ten or eleven year old, when cartoons and teenage sitcoms made up the majority of my entertainment, Bill Cosby was the only grown-up who could make me laugh until I couldn’t breathe. It was at that age that I first watched Himself, Cosby’s most memorable standup special. Himself, I presumed, was aptly titled: the stories about childhood and fatherhood, seasoned with a dash of exuberance, seemed genuine and personal. I remember getting hooked by Cosby’s exaggerated squeals and squinting eyes when he impersonated a stoner grabbing fast food—even though I had no idea what smoking weed meant—because I could identify the authenticity in the man behind the impression.
There is no way to measure what Bill Cosby took from the women he abused. And, to be clear, they are the only real victims of his actions. While I trusted Cosby as a wholesome TV dad, an imaginary, nightly stand-in for my absent father, these women trusted him with their lives, in the closeness and vulnerability of human interaction. Many of his accusers—still growing in number—entered into mentorships with Cosby, expecting to learn and laugh with the gentle, fatherly man they’d seen on TV.
“Listen, he was America’s favorite dad,” said Barbara Bowman, who met Cosby at seventeen and claims he drugged and raped her countless times for more than a year.