How Clarence Thomas was pilloried by the liberal media

Mona Charen

April 19, 1993|By Mona Charen

THE predominantly liberal press in America decides what is and what is not a scandal. That ought to be a non-controversial statement, yet journalists hotly deny that political or ideological bias plays any role in their judgment. Well, that proposition is about to be tested anew.

David Brock, a reporter for the American Spectator, has written a book which can only be described as a bombshell.

If, after digesting "The Real Anita Hill," the unofficial judges of scandal do not retroactively declare what happened to Clarence Thomas to be an outrage of historic proportions, then there is no honesty left in Washington.

Mr. Brock's painstaking reconstruction of each phase of the Anita Hill story contains a revelation on almost every page. He reveals, for example, that there must have been two leakers of the story to the press and concludes, carefully, that one of them was a United States senator. Brock names him. I will not. Read the book.

Even more disturbing is the comprehensive mendacity that characterized the press' handling of the story from the beginning. Because it suited the political agenda of feminists, the press uncritically repeated the "fact" that the Senate Judiciary Committee had not taken Anita Hill's charges seriously -- that they "just didn't get it," in the worn-out phrase of the day.

The truth -- available to any journalist who had bothered to check -- is that the Judiciary Committee could do nothing more than circulate Ms. Hill's charges internally, because until very late in the game, Ms. Hill herself was insisting upon anonymity.

What then are all these hyperthyroid liberals suggesting? That we dispense with the basic American right to confront one's accusers and adopt a totalitarian system wherein anonymous accusations can destroy people's lives?

Mr. Brock, who says he watched the Hill/Thomas hearings with an open mind, has searched the record and interviewed dozens of witnesses looking for evidence that Clarence Thomas lied. He found none. Every person who knew both Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas believed Thomas. Though the press worked hard to portray Ms. Hill's as a "typical case" of sexual harassment in which it comes down to his word against hers, it was nothing of the kind. The typical sexual harasser displays a pattern of abuse. Not only was Ms. Hill the sole accuser of Judge Thomas, but dozens of women who worked with both people found it inconceivable that the rigorously upright Clarence Thomas would behave as Ms. Hill described.

Moreover, Clarence Thomas' conduct is consistent with that of a man falsely accused. When informed by the FBI and his friend Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo., that sexual harassment charges had been leveled against him, Judge Thomas nevertheless decided to stand and fight, not quietly withdraw, as his enemies had hoped.

Mr. Brock writes, "If he was guilty of even the least of the charges, there was great risk involved in pressing ahead with confirmation in a public hearing . . . How did he know Hill had not kept a diary or written a poignant letter to her parents recounting the harassment?"

Sifting through her Senate testimony, Mr. Brock finds dozens of inconsistencies and flat contradictions in Ms. Hill's account. She clearly perjured herself on small details again and again.

But what of Anita Hill's corroborating witnesses? This is where Mr. Brock's homework really scores a home run. Administrative law judge Susan Hoerchner, the most vital corroborating witness (and an old hand at sexual harassment charges herself), told Senate investigators that the phone call in which Ms. Hill complained of harassment by her boss (unnamed) had occurred in the spring of 1981. That was six months before Ms. Hill went to work for Clarence Thomas! Alerted to the danger by Hill supporters, Ms. Hoerchner maintained in subsequent testimony that she could not recall the date of the call.

The creation of St. Anita, Mr. Brock proves, was sheer invention by the press. Far from the conservative Robert Bork supporter painted by the liberal press, Ms. Hill is a left-wing zealot who used her image as a small-town religious Baptist from a large family purely for effect.

This book blows the lid off the most shameful episode of recent American history. If this book is buried or ignored, Justice Thomas will have been raped twice.

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist.

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