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Fareed speaks with Mark Whitaker, author of Cosby: His Life and Times, about the importance of Bill Cosby to President Barack Obama's election.
Just over 30 years ago, "The Cosby Show" premiered on American television screens. It was ground-breaking, for certain, especially for the way it portrayed this African-American family with Bill Cosby as the patriarch. But did it break so much ground that without it, Barack Obama might not be our president? That's what my next guest says.
Mark Whitaker is the author of the new book, Cosby: His Life and Times. I should note that Mark was CNN's managing editor until last year and many years ago, we worked together at Newsweek. Actually, he was my boss. Welcome back.
So explain that idea, because a number of people have made it, and you talk about it in the book, that if not for Bill Cosby and "The Cosby Show," Obama might not be president.
Well, the person who made the point, 15 minutes after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, was Karl Rove. He was on Fox News. And he was talking to Chris Wallace about the social significance of the election.
And they pointed out for the first time, we were going to have an African-American family in the White House. And Karl Rove said, no, wait a second, you know, we've already had an African-American family that was sort of America's family, and that was the Huxtables and "The Cosby Show."
So I think the point – and it was picked up by others in the days after that – was that in electing Obama, we weren't just electing a politician, we were also sending his family to live in our national home, in the White House. And to a large degree, I think that was never a point of controversy during the election, I think partly because of "The Cosby Show."