Dr. Huxtable vs. Mr. Cosby: Who Is the Real Bill Cosby?

"That was an entirely different situation. He had a lot sympathy then because of the murder of his son," Gorney said.

Turning the Mirror Around

Even if a civil suit is filed, it's debatable whether the groping allegation will have any affect on Cosby's credibility.

"It's a moot point," Chapman said. "It doesn't eradicate his ability to speak on issues he considers important."

Chapman pointed to the undiminished stature of the Rev. Jesse Jackson as a civil rights leader.

"Jesse Jackson can still speak on issues of public policy, even with his admission of fathering a child out of wedlock, though his speaking on moral issues and marriage may not ring true," he said.

The public may forget about the groping allegations. But the debate sparked by Cosby's criticism of black parenting and the level of self-accountability among African-Americans will go on -- and perhaps that's the best thing his tirade could have accomplished.

Still, Cosby may never really be Dr. Huxtable again. The ghost of what some have called his elitist criticism may linger. When Cosby urged African-Americans to "turn the mirror around" on themselves, he really may have turned the mirror on himself.

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