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Phylicia Rashad

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Updated Wednesday, Jan. 7, 9:33 p.m.: In an interview with ABC’s Nightline, Phylicia Rashad now denies ever saying “forget these women” when asked by a Hollywood website about Bill Cosby’s accusers.

To Nightline she said, “I am a woman. I would never say such a thing. I would never think such a thing,” she said. “My message is, what happens to a nation in which people knowingly and willfully disavow the tenets that describe the nation? ... This is not about the women. This is about something else. This is about the obliteration of a legacy.”

Earlier:

Many celebrities have come forward in support of Bill Cosby, including Whoopi Goldberg, Jill Scott and Keshia Knight Pulliam, since multiple women claimed that he drugged and sexually assaulted them. Cosby's newest supporter is now giving her take on the situation and thinks that it's a well-executed smear campaign.

Phylicia Rashad, who played Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, spoke to Showbiz 411 during a luncheon for the much applauded film Selma. Rashad, who seemingly remained silent on the Cosby situation until the interview, is standing by her longtime colleague and friend.

"Forget these women," she said. "What you're seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it's orchestrated. I don't know why or who's doing it, but it's the legacy. And it's a legacy that is so important to the culture. ... Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV, and it's worked. All his contracts have been canceled."

Rashad, like many of Cosby's celebrity and noncelebrity supporters, is attempting to discredit the women who have come forward, including former supermodels Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson. Rashad has also shown support for Cosby's wife, Camille, whom she referred to as a "tough woman."

Although many people have publicly spoken about the allegations, the comedian himself has remained relatively silent, outside of occasional comments from his attorney. But what would he have to gain now if he spoke? Rashad definitely feels nothing would be gained.

"If he spoke now, what do you think the media would do with it?" she said.

Although more than 20 women have come forward, all with similar stories, it seems interesting that women have been some of the strongest voices when it comes to discrediting their accusations.

Maybe Cosby will tell his side of the story; maybe he won't. But he's definitely not short on supporters.

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Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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