The duet, written in 1944 by Broadway legend Frank Loesser, features a man trying to convince a visiting woman to stay at his place because it’s “cold outside.” Critics contend the lyrics support sexual predation. Cleveland’s Star 102 FM and some other radio stations have yanked the song off the air. (A new poll of listeners in Cleveland, however, is running at least 90 percent in favor of the song.)
“Bill Cosby is ruining it for everybody,” Susan Loesser complained Thursday on NBC News. “Ever since Cosby was accused of drugging women, I hear the date rape thing all the time” in connection to her late father’s song, she added.
Cosby was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison in September for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman, and he’s has been accused of assaulting dozens of other women. In “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” the woman asks at one point: “Hey, what’s in this drink?”
Loesser said her father “would be furious” about the controversy over the drink lyric. “People used to say, ‘What’s in this drink?’ as a joke. You know, this drink is going straight to my head, so what’s in this drink?” she added. “Back then it didn’t mean you drugged me.”
Loesser said the controversy particularly annoys her because “it’s a song my father wrote for him and my mother to sing at parties.”
The song was also championed Thursday by “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King, who noted, “I know I’m going to get hammered for this.”
“We are losing our sense of humor,” said King, who described herself as a “big supporter and proponent of the Me Too movement.” She added: “It’s a Christmas song that was written years ago, and you have to look at the intent of the song ... to me, it’s a very flirtatious back-and-forth between the two of them.”
Loesser said she understands that the song strikes people differently amid the Me Too movement.
“Absolutely I get it,” she said. “But I think it would be good if people looked at the song in the context of the time. It was written in 1944. It was a different time.”