Roker then read three quotes from Cosby: "Those people are not Africans; they don't know a damn thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Shaliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail." Next, "All this child knows is 'gimme, gimme, gimme.' These people want to buy the friendship of a child . . . and the child couldn't care less. . . . These people are not parenting. They're buying things for the kid. $500 sneakers, for what? They won't . . . spend $250 on Hooked on Phonics." And finally, "You can't land a plane with 'why you ain't . . . ' You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth . . . "
Dyson: " . . . Black people have always been creative in naming their children. Africans name their kids after the days of the week, after conditions of their birth. Black people in 1930s gave their kids names after consumer products, Cremola, Listerine, Hershey Bar. So black naming has always been creative. I'm not worried about Shaniqua and Taliqua, I'm worried about Clarence and Condoleeza, who can hurt us in high places of power in America." Roker said nothing.
Dyson then accused Cosby of hypocrisy. After all, Cosby was a "pitchman" for "Jell-O Puddin' Pops. . . . He created artificial desire in people to spend beyond their means . . . "??!! Roker said nothing.
Dyson: So I'm speaking forth . . . on behalf of those people who are poor, because, after all, I was a teen father, lived on welfare until I was 21, then went to get a Ph.D. at Princeton, now I'm gonna have Afro-nesia [sic] and forget the people from which I've emerged? No, bro, I ain't the one." To which Roker "fired back" with this show stopper: "You know, you gotta come out of your shell."
Would Dyson have called Couric or Lauer "bro"?
Why didn't Katie or Matt do the interview? Perhaps Couric no longer feels comfortable with "contentious" subjects after she came out on the wrong end of an interview with smart and funny conservative commentator Ann Coulter. Perhaps Lauer knows that we "right-wingers" watch for signs of bias and would have demanded a forceful interview. But, if Lauer challenges too hard, he fears running the risk of being called racially insensitive. If he goes too soft, he will be accused, quite properly, of pandering and condescension.
The solution? Let Al do it. After all, he, too, is black, as are Cosby and Dyson. So what can critics say? What should Roker have done? Two options. Either rise to the level of the seriousness of the topic and conduct a real interview that challenged Dyson and enlightened viewers. Or, Roker should have said to his producer, "Cosby raised important issues, and Cosby argues that blaming racism no longer gets it. This is a serious claim and needs to be taken seriously. We insult Cosby, the issue and our audience if I do the interview rather than Katie or Matt."
In other words, "No, bro, I ain't the one."