October 7th, 2014
05:36 PM ET

Did the Cosby Show help Obama get elected?

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

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.

Hi Fareed.

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."

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soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Philip

    No. People on welfare did. And men who could work but claim to be disabled instead.  

    October 7, 2014 at 5:50 pm | Reply
    • How...

      You're a moron.

      October 7, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Reply
  2. chri§§y

    And from an "untainted view" no, people with common sense! Also his opponent helped a great deal! And try as hard as they can, and we sure know they have, the opposing party FAILED to get any dirt on the man, making him one of the most honest POTUSs we've had in a very long time!

    October 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  3. chri§§y

    People on welfare? Yov mean the people reduced from middle class under GWB years to working poor?? Because they are no more pleased having to sign up for food stamps than you are with that!

    October 7, 2014 at 6:24 pm | Reply
    • How...

      Karl Rove is a moron, and so is Phillip.

      October 7, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Reply
      • rupert

        @how. And me? What about me?
        Include me too. Stu pid!

        October 7, 2014 at 9:27 pm |
  4. chri§§y

    Meant you not yov.

    October 7, 2014 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  5. rupert

    Yep chrissy. GW tore this country up. Still on recovery.
    Loved the bill cosby show. Miss it.
    But they all got old like everyone else.

    October 7, 2014 at 8:27 pm | Reply
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini @

    No Bush did any such thing.
    Both Philip's and chrissy's first posts make some good points.
    I voted for Obama the first time, for one big reason, because of the possibility that Sarah Palin might become president.

    October 7, 2014 at 8:53 pm | Reply
    • rupert

      Really joey! GW didn't invade a country based on nothing but public emotion and false reports of weapons of mass destruction. He didn't ruin thousands of american lives due to this??
      Wow. Have u been smoking green stuff? Or are u a troll??
      Where is the real joey??

      October 7, 2014 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini @

    This author will sell a lot of books anyway to Cosby's many fans, but to credit that TV show with Obama's election is very transparent hype.

    October 7, 2014 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  8. chri§§y

    Really Joey....Bush didnt take our economy down? Lolololol thats just too funny!

    October 7, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  9. palintweet

    Sarah palin for president, 2016!!!

    October 7, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Reply
  10. chri§§y

    Lets see..housing crisis...GWB. Unemployment out of control...GWB. Debt out of control (much of it hidden from the public) in a war that was bogus from start to finish, except to benefit GWB and the other War Criminal Cheney! Yup GWB!

    October 7, 2014 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  11. chri§§y

    Lol president of what? We love elmo club maybe!

    October 7, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  12. chri§§y

    Lmao @ rupert...i know right? Lol

    October 7, 2014 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  13. rupert

    Thank u chrissy. But of course, Republicans come to his rescue because he is a republican. Imagine what they would say if obama did the exact same manure that G.W. Bush did.
    Oh well. At least obama is cleaning his mess

    October 7, 2014 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  14. Blue Saffron

    Time to put Bush and Obama on trial for genocides in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    October 7, 2014 at 9:40 pm | Reply
  15. Joey Isotta-Fraschini @

    @ chrissy & rupert,
    We could argue about the causes of the USA's economic disaster for the rest of our lives, and we probably would never agree.
    We often agree. That's a good thing.
    Life can be fun.

    October 7, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Reply
  16. chri§§y

    Oh puhleeze! Obama did no such thing!

    October 7, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini @

      When is war genocide, and when is it just plain war?
      Well see now, that depends on who's giving the war.
      Take Cheney, for example: he commits genocide, just going to the bathroom.

      October 7, 2014 at 9:56 pm | Reply
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini @

        Why, Dick Cheney is considered so evil that he can commit attempted genocide just by having a heart attack.

        October 7, 2014 at 10:24 pm |
  17. rupert

    Time to put bush on trial for presenting fradualent information to congress to get approval for war.

    October 7, 2014 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  18. rupert

    @Blue Saffron. Get real. Obama withdrew troops from the middle east. Now he, along with turkey, saudia arabia, and others is bombing isis.
    Isis is not a bridge club, son. They are vicious deadly te.rrorist s

    October 7, 2014 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  19. chri§§y

    Agree @ Joey i posted a few days back on a thread on China, a very lengthy post stats on outsourcing of manufacturing jobs that began part of our economic recession. One that i am not in the mood to repost, but alot of our economic woes today, a very good portion, go right back to 2 senseless wars started by GWB!

    October 7, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Reply
  20. rupert

    "Senseless" indeed.
    Suicide, missing limbs, dead soldiers, widows, fatherless american children, ruined economy.
    And for what? Because G.W. wanted to go down in history as having a pair?

    October 7, 2014 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  21. rupert

    I would understand if Iraq sent ships and men into Ha.waii to invade.
    Then send our soldiers. But that was not even remotely close to reality.
    Was it?

    October 7, 2014 at 10:03 pm | Reply
  22. rupert

    WAS IT!!!!

    October 7, 2014 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  23. Ajay

    Wonder if they have vaccination against raypes in India. My 90 year old brahmin grandma will be traveling there to select her wood for sati (grandpa died so she has to throw herself into the fire) but we don't want her rayped prior.

    October 7, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  24. rupert

    Bush and all his supporters are so full of it.
    I mean the brown stinky stuff.

    October 7, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  25. Missy

    Meanwhile down by the mango trees in India, hindus continue to defecate out in the open, get rayped and hung by the branches of the sweet fruit.

    October 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  26. rupert

    @ ajay. Why don't u dress like a woman and walk in a downtown Chicago alley late at night.
    Bet u will feel a big welcome up uranus.
    Bet you'll love it too. U sound so into it.
    Am I right, pretty boy?

    October 7, 2014 at 10:13 pm | Reply
    • Missy

      Don't mess with hindus @rupey they'll raype ya to macaroons

      October 7, 2014 at 10:15 pm | Reply
  27. Missy

    I had this hindu guy from Chennai in India as my boyfriend for a few months. He used to raype his sister 6 years old several times a week. He told me that his holy book Ramayana encouraged such. So I discussed with the local police who arrested him later. He is now in jail. Ironically he is in same jail as another Indian guy Rajat Gupta. Seems we will need to build another jail just for people from India.

    October 7, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  28. rupert

    @missy. I bet the smell of your "sweet fruit" between your legs could kill a fly. Hey, save money on raid.
    Just spread your legs

    October 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm | Reply
    • Missy

      @rupey eunuchs like you can only take a bubba's d ik up your a zz. Just pull your knickers down and bend over, boy.

      October 7, 2014 at 10:20 pm | Reply
      • rupert

        @missy. Yes. I will bend over for u so u can shove your tongue up my azz and taste.
        I know u are a male troll. Just transfer all my previous comments to your mother's wo mb.
        Some of us work for a living.
        Good night troll.

        October 7, 2014 at 10:29 pm |
      • Ajay

        Hey @rupert su k my black indian balls. Full of garam masala.

        October 7, 2014 at 10:35 pm |
  29. rupert

    @missy. Why not get some juice from your never been duched c.u.n.t and sell it as insect repellent.
    You're sure to make a bundle.

    October 7, 2014 at 10:19 pm | Reply
    • Missy

      @rupey take a hike down Harlem with your tights on and s uk some d iks. Brush your teeth first.

      When you are done walk down to Bronx and slide some latino sausage up your rear end. Don't forget to insert some hot sauce afterwards.

      October 7, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Reply
  30. chri§§y

    Omg! @ Joey that was hillarious! Lmao! And @ missy...india was last weeks news! Why cant ppl read the story ti tle? First they confuse china with india and now they confuse mexico with india? Give it a freakin rest already! Fixated on ra ypes that much are you? See a shrink!!!!

    October 7, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini @

      Re Mexico v. India:
      Do I have to take prophylactic antibiotics if I go to India?

      October 7, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Reply
      • Ajay

        No. Just put on a steel underwear, lock it snd leave the key behind with mom. That way you won't get b uggered in Chandni Chowk.

        October 7, 2014 at 10:41 pm |
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