The Today host said she reached out to both men after their respective scandals broke, arguing that not to do so would have made her a “fair-weather friend.”
At times Gifford’s arguments were confused, and appeared contradictory.
She started off by telling Cohen that she has been the victim of date rape, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse since she got into show business, and said it was important to distinguish between them.
“I, personally, since I got into this business, as a teenage girl, I have been sexually harassed, I have been sexually abused, and I have been date raped,” Gifford, 64, said. “Don’t tell me they’re all the same, because they are not. They are not the same. Unless you’ve been through it and you can say they are the same, then fine. Not the same to me.”
While few would disagree with Gifford’s comments up to that point, the interview then took a very strange turn when Gifford continued with a stunning non-sequitur: “I don’t want to throw everybody on the same manure pile. Being a jerk is not the same as being a rapist. It just isn’t.”
Cohen asked her outright if she had “reached out” to Cosby after the allegations against him surfaced.
“Yes, I’ve been friends with Bill for a long, long time,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion, “Harvey Weinstein was a friend of mine for 30 years. I called him and left a message.
“I just want people to know I don’t judge them. I don’t like what they do, but God knows their hearts and there’s hope for them.
“You can’t call yourself a friend if the first minute there’s trouble, you run. That’s called a fair-weather friend and that’s not a friend at all.
“I hope people are not misunderstanding this. I’m not saying that that kind of behavior is in any way acceptable. It isn’t, and it’s horrible, and as a woman who has experienced it, it’s awful.
“But can we at least look at each individual case and see it for what it is? And be merciful to people that are sorry for what they’ve done?”
Well, yes, let’s look at each individual case.
Cosby, 80, has been accused of drugging and raping more than 50 women, while 65-year-old Weinstein has been accused of rape or sexual assault by dozens of actresses. Neither has sought to apologize—in fact both deny the allegations against them.
Gifford concluded: “If we stop having mercy as a part of our vocabulary, Andy, our world will completely die.”