Phylicia Rashad made headlines when she defended her embattled TV husband Bill Cosby and appeared to be dismissive of his accusers in an interview with Roger Friedman of Showbiz 411 published Tuesday.
But the actress, who starred as Cosby's wife in both the hugely popular NBC sitcom "The Cosby Show" and later in the CBS series "Cosby," is now claiming she was partially misquoted.
In the initial interview, Rashad seemed to suggest that Cosby, who has been accused of sexually assaulting numerous women over several decades, is the victim of a conspiracy.
In a televised interview Wednesday with ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis Rashad continued to stand by Cosby but claimed she never said, "Forget these women," a line that struck many observers as flippant disregard for the alleged victims.
"I am a woman. I would never say that," she said. "That was a misquote. That is not what I said. What I said is this is not about the women - this is about something else. This is about the obliteration of a legacy."
While Rashad has clarified her initial comments, she did not back away from her defense of Cosby or from the theory that he is the victim of an orchestrated attack.
When asked her initial response to the charges, Rashad recalled thinking, "Hmmm... someone has a vested interest in preventing Mr. Cosby's return to network television." (Before the allegations surfaced, Cosby had a comedy pilot in the works for NBC. It has since been dropped.)
"We're talking about a legacy that inspired a generation of young people to consider and pursue higher education," she said. "We're talking about a legacy that introduced and portrayed American culture in its diversity. It's difficult for me to watch this legacy be erased as if it never happened."
She also made it clear she had not been approached by Cosby or his handlers to speak out on his behalf, but said she had spoken to him in the early days of the scandal. "His comment then was, 'The Internet has given some anonymous people a very loud voice.'"
As for skeptics who suggest that Rashad has a personal stake in rehabilitating Cosby's image so that re-runs of the sitcom will return to air, she said simply, "Oh really? They don't understand how residuals go. The longer the show runs, the smaller the residual."
For the complete interview with Rashad, click here.