The rise and fall of 'America's Dad' : Code Switch At the height of his career, Bill Cosby was one of the most famous men in the United States. He was the biggest and highest paid star in the country, and with his image plastered on billboards, advertisements and television, many people felt like they knew him. Of course, few people really knew Bill Cosby. And many of the people who had seen who he was up close would be traumatized for the rest of their lives.

The rise and fall of 'America's Dad'

The rise and fall of 'America's Dad'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1082475390/1082480371" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Michelle Rohn for NPR
Illustration of the disgraced celebrity Bill Cosby
Michelle Rohn for NPR

At the height of his career, Bill Cosby was one of the most famous men in the United States. He was the biggest and highest paid star in the country, and with his image plastered on billboards, TV commercials, and of course, the Cosby Show, many people felt like they knew him. Of course, few people really knew Bill Cosby. And many of the people who had seen who he was up close would be traumatized for the rest of their lives.

Looking back, Cosby's legacy underscores some of the dangers and contradictions of representation politics, and the way that one powerful person can be wielded to silence scores of others.

In this episode, we talk to W. Kamau Bell, the producer of the new Showtime docuseries "We Need To Talk About Cosby," about why Bill Cosby still looms so large in our national imagination.