After taking awhile to come around to the idea that Bill Cosby could plausibly be guilty of raping the multiple women who’ve accused him, Whoopi Goldberg appears to be a bit more enlightened.
Whoopi initially defended Cosby on The View last year, stating, “This is my opinion and in America, still, I know it’s a shock, we’re actually innocent until proven guilty. He has not been proven.” This, despite the growing number of women who came forward with stories of Cosby’s alleged sexual assault. In a later episode, Whoopi had a surprisingly rational change of heart—“I gotta say, all of the information that’s out there kinda points to guilt,” she said.
When asked about her “provocative opinion” on Cosby in an interview with The New York Times Magazine—and whether the same innocence logic applies to Roger Ailes—Whoopi cites social media as a perpetuator of so-called guilt culture. “I used to think that ‘innocent until proven guilty’ was the American way. But now social media makes that decision for you,” says Whoopi. “People are at a disadvantage in a way that they weren’t before; you don’t really seem to be able to have your own opinion about something.”
There’s truth in the statement, though Whoopi seems to be saying she’s only abandoned the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” because social media made her do it. She adds, “I believe strongly that we should always encourage women to say something, so that if it’s true, you can prove it and get somebody off the street, and if it’s not, clear them and move on.”
The conversation continues with the writer, Ana Marie Cox, thankfully pointing out the nuance to Whoopi that the “innocent until proven guilty” rationale fails in cases of rape given that victims get stuck with the burden of proof:
But you have to balance the notion of “innocent until proven guilty” against a bias that we’ve had as a culture to not believe women, right? Look at it from this standpoint: You have the kids, the former Duke lacrosse players, who were sort of raked over the coals, and it turned out they were innocent. You want to make sure you’ve got the right people, so that if you’ve got ’em, you got ’em for good.
I think part of the reason that causes an uproar is that for every time someone’s proven innocent, you have a woman who then is afraid to come forward because she thinks she’s not going to be believed. Well, that’s why it’s important for people to say, Listen, it’s up to us to help you, whichever direction it is. But everybody has to figure out where they stand on “innocent until proven guilty.”
Good to know that even as Whoopi is slowly coming around to the world of logic, she’s still as stubborn as ever.