HBO just broadcast “Confirmation,” a dramatic portrayal of how law professor Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment 25 years ago almost derailed Clarence Thomas from becoming a Supreme Court justice. Right wing ideologues are already screaming bias.
A San Francisco Chronicle columnist proclaimed: “The left is masterful at rewriting history. “Confirmation” airbrushed out events that do not confirm the left’s revisionist view on the Thomas hearings.”
Mark Paoletta, an assistant counsel who worked for President George H.W. Bush on the Clarence Thomas confirmation proceedings, has blasted it – “In my view, it’s the second high-tech lynching of Justice Thomas. HBO made this movie in an election year to support Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, which loves to claim that a mythical ‘war on women’ is underway by Republicans.”
Mollie Hemingway on the right-wing site The Federalist goes to great lengths to discredit the TV movie. “‘Confirmation’ is the latest in this unrelenting push to rewrite history,” she writes, calling it, “malicious negligent storytelling.”
Hemingway’s scathing dismissal is almost laughable. It seems rather sad that as a woman she fails to recognize the pervasiveness of sexual harassment against women, especially by men in positions of power.
In the article she conveniently neglects to mention that four other women were prepared to testify to similar harassing behavior by Thomas. And then there’s Thomas’ former girlfriend, federal prosecutor Lillian McEwen, who spilled the beans on his boozing, threesomes and love for porn (Thomas had been “obsessed with porn,” she reported).
Hemingway tries to discredit another witness, Angela Wright, who was prevented from testifying against Thomas. A few years back The Washington Post revealed that there was an agreement among top Republicans and Democrats not to call Wright, because they feared either that her testimony would create even greater political chaos or that it would doom Thomas’ nomination.
The same Post article revealed that several senators, including Arlen Specter and Joe Biden, believed that if Wright had testified, Thomas would not have been confirmed to the Supreme Court, where, surprise, surprise, he has repeatedly voted to narrow the scope of sexual harassment law.
Hemingway also failed to mention in her Federalist article a letter to the committee by Sukari Hardnett, a former aide to Thomas at the EEOC, who wrote that many black women at the agency felt they were “an object of special interest” to their boss. “If you were young, black, female and reasonably attractive,” her letter read, “you knew full well you were being inspected and auditioned as a female.”
The HBO film barely touched on the shocking scope of how Hill was brutally interrogated for hours by a bunch of powerful white guys, who tried unsuccessfully to humiliate her and break her down in public. Thomas had called the hearing a lynching. But if there was a symbolic lynching on that day, it was of Hill.
In one of the film’s most shocking true scenes, Missouri Sen. John Danforth accuses Hill of suffering from a condition called “erotomania,” a delusion in which the sufferer believes that someone, usually of higher social status, is in love with them. A psychiatrist, Park Dietz, offered this weird theory to conservatives on the Senate Judiciary Committee to help derail her believability.
In another bizarre, but true scene, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, one of Thomas’ chief defenders on the Judiciary Committee, at one point suggested that Hill plagiarized one of her accusations about Thomas from the novel “The Exorcist.” During the hearings, Hill had testified that Thomas once proclaimed that someone had put a pubic hair on his can of Coke. Hatch held up a copy of the 1971 novel and read a passage wherein a character complains of pubic hair in his glass of gin. It’s hard to believe it actually happened.
For Hemingway it’s far easier and convenient to demonize a woman, and believe the upstanding male judge, who has shown himself to be so incompetent he only spoke publicly once in the Supreme Court in 10 years. But of course that’s what his Conservative backers wanted – a yes boss lap dog they could control.
Hemingway desperately needs to support the smear campaign narrative that Hill lied, because if she was telling the truth, it would mean HE lied!
In a 2007 interview, Angela Wright confirmed what many of us had concluded, that Thomas “perjured his way onto the Supreme Court.”