BBC News reporter mistakenly refers to Bill Cosby as Bill Clinton, prompting on-air apology

Cosby was released from prison yesterday after his sexual assault conviction was overturned

Louis Chilton
Thursday 01 July 2021 10:12
BBC reporter mistakenly refers to Bill Cosby as ‘Bill Clinton’

BBC News presenter Michelle Fleury mistakenly referred to Bill Cosby as former US president Bill Clinton in a news broadcast yesterday, prompting an apology from the broadcaster.

The news channel was reporting on Cosby’s release from prison, after the comedian and Cosby Show star’s sexual assault conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

You can read an in-depth explanation of the decision here, covering why he was released, what happens now, and whether Cosby could be in-line for a pay-out.

Covering the story for BBC News, Fleury was reporting from outside SCI state prison, when she said: “For the last two years this is where Bill Clinton has called home but tonight he will sleep in his own bed after the bombshell decision by Pennsylvania to overturn his conviction of sexual assault.”

When the coverage then switched back to the BBC studio, presenter Huw Edwards issued a clarification and apology for the slip-up.

“Just to clarify what was said there at Michelle’s introduction to the story when she mistakenly said Bill Clinton instead of Bill Cosby... We apologise for the mistake; the story of course is about Bill Cosby, the entertainer.”

The error hadn’t gone unnoticed by viewers, with some people flagging the clip on social media.

“The BBC mixing up Bill Clinton and Bill Cosby on the evening news bulletin is quite the mood,” wrote one person.

“What a mistake,” wrote someone else.

Responding to the news, author Dylan Farrow said the decision to overturn Cosby’s sexual assault conviction was “a travesty”.

“For those who question myself and other survivors about the reasons and timing of coming forward, I hope that today will serve a teachable moment on empathy and why it takes years – if ever – for someone to discuss their abuse,” she wrote in a Twitter statement,

“Many survivors will look at the events of today and decide it’s not worth it; that even when justice is served, it can be taken away.”

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