Bill Cosby Falls into the Streisand Effect

Bill Cosby is having a tough month. Allegations of rape are haunting him, and he is trying not to respond. During a video interview with the Associated Press, the celebrity was put in a difficult position: He didn't expect questions related to these allegations, yet he got him. With his wife by his side, he gave few-word answers, sticking to his strategy of not engaging reporters' questions.

But then he made a fatal mistake, asking for the interaction to be cut from the published video. As crisis communication experts could predict, this made the clip far more alluring.

Cosby could use a lesson in the Streisand Effect. The phenomenon was named after the singer and actress Barbra Streisand filed suit against an organization that maintains photographs of the California coastline, which includes her Malibu estate. Rather than hiding the location, the suit had the opposite effect: People were increasingly motivated to find out where she lived and what he home looked like. Without the attention, experts say, few people would care.

During the interview, Cosby made such an issue of trying to squelch his non-response to the questions that the clip became newsworthy. He sounds silly and defensive-and we like that in a fallen star.

Discussion Starters: 

  • What's your view of the interview? What could Cosby have done differently? 
  • What other observations do you have about interactions during this segment?