In a conversation with Uproxx last Friday, Robert Carlock—former 30 Rock showrunner and screenwriter of the upcoming Tina Fey film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot—confirmed that a Bill Cosby rape joke from a 2009 episode of 30 Rock was, indeed, intentional.
During his explanation, Carlock mentioned at least two 30 Rock writers who'd been gunning for The Cosby Show star years before the public backlash against Cosby gained full steam:
“If you go back to ‘Weekend Update,’ Tina [Fey] has been grinding that ax for a long time. That was not an accident. From my memory, the joke was more overt. And because he had not been found guilty of anything – and still hasn’t – we had to reword it to be a little more obtuse. I think ever since the Today show appearance by one of the women, there’s a run or a joke she did on “Update” years ago. And Hannibal Buress was one of our writers – and he took it to the next level.”
The scene's transcript makes it abundantly clear that the 30 Rock writer's room was eager to take shots at Cosby:
Jack Donaghy: I’ve arranged for one of Tracy’s childhood idols to reach out to him.
Tracy Jordan: Hello?
Jack Donaghy: Tracy, this is Jack, I have someone here who wants to speak with you.
Rick: Tracy, this is Bill Cosby…
Liz Lemon: [whispering] Really? This is your strategy?
Jack Donaghy: [whispering and smiling] I heard him do this at a party!
Rick: …I want you to come back to the TGS for the people who like the jokes and the things.
Tracy Jordan: Bill Cosby, you got a lotta nerve gettin’ on the phone wit’ me after what you did to my Aunt Paulette!
Rick: I think you’re confusing me with someone else.
Tracy Jordan: 1971. Cincinnati. She was a cocktail waitress with the droopy eye!
Rick: I’m the guy… with the pudding…
Tracy Jordan: Don’t try to tell me what to do! Heathcliffe Huxtable, wit’ yo’ light-ass kids! Jack! Why would you make me talk to this man?