25 Years of Hating Anita Hill
The Media Research Center will never forgive Anita Hill for nearly derailing conservative Clarence Thomas' bid to be Supreme Court justice, so it tries to denigrate her every chance it gets.
By Terry Krepel
And to this day, more than a quarter-century after that hearing, the Media Research Center -- and, in particular, MRC director of media analysis Tim Graham -- can't stop taking pot shots at her for the crime of saying something unflattering about a conservative.
A 1994 column by MRC chief Brent Bozell attacked a book defending Hill and whined that the "comprehensive, investigative, and conservative book" by David Brock, "The Real Anita Hill," was ignored by the media. The book -- which infamously described Hill as "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty" -- was renounced by Brock in 2001 as containing untrue and unsubstantiated attacks on Hill.
A 2007 MRC post complained that Hill was "made a liberal icon" through Thomas testimony, insisting -- ironically, given Brock's retraction of his Hill hatchet job -- that "Hill's allegations remain utterly unsubstantiated."
Unsaid by the MRC: Thomas' denials have never been substantiated either. Yet the MRC would continue to repeatedly dismiss Hill's claims as unsubstantiated and even a lie.
In an October 2011 NewsBusters post, the MRC's Tim Graham repeatedly portrayed Hill as a liar during her 1991 testimony, claiming that Hill was " part of a lie-manufacturing left-wing conspiracy" and asserting that a Washington Post article about Hill "completely sidestepped whether she was lying her face off."
But Graham offered no evidence Hill ever lied about anything.
At best, it's a he-said, she-said situation, and it's likely nobody will know the real truth outside of the two parties involved. Tellingly, Graham did not consider the possibility that Thomas is the one who's lying. He also didn't mention that Hill reportedly passed a polygraph test telling her version of events.
Graham went on to whine about "Hill's millionaire payday," a reference to "million-dollar-plus book deal with Doubleday." Graham does concede that this book deal was made in 1993, a full two years after her testimony, but he's too invested in the smear to notice that the two-year lag pretty much shoots down the quid-pro-quo argument he's trying to make.
Plus, as the Washington Post article that set off Graham's tirade points out, Hill's book under that deal wasn't even published until 1998, which destroys Graham's cashing-in meme even more.
Funny, we don't recall Graham dismissing Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey for being in it for the money, even though they certainly tried to cash in on their Clinton-era infamy.
A few days later, the MRC researcher Scott Whitlock complained that NBC's Andrea Mitchell didn't "challenge the honesty of Hill" during an interview. Then, after noting that Mitchell pointed out that Hill "took a lie-detector test, a polygraph exam, privately administered from a former FBI official and that was not paid any attention to" and that "there were other corroborating witnesses who were not permitted to testify," Whitlock responded: "Also, an October 14, 1991 USA Today poll found that 47 percent of Americans believed Thomas. Only 24 percent found Hill to be telling the truth."
Whitlock didn't explain why public perception should trump actual facts.
In March 2014, Whitlock devoted an MRC item to bashing a Hill appearance on ABC's "The View," grumbling that host Barbara Walters "allowed no tough questions of Hill, just queries about the "cost" of speaking out. " Whitlock then huffed: "A tough journalist might have pointed out that Hill has since written a book, become a professor at Brandeis University and has starred in a documentary. The book deal came with a reported $1 million payday. If the cost of the hearings on her life is fair game, what about Hill's enrichment?" Needless to say, he doesn't mention that Hill has never changed her story over the years, nor has she been proven wrong.
But, hey, the fact that Hill has never been proven wrong won't keep the MRC from suggesting otherwise. The following month, Graham ranted about a "leftist documentary on Anita Hill" that "doubles down on the alleged sainthood of Anita Hill and her still-unsubstantiated charges of sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas," that she was merely spinning "wacky stories of pubic hairs on Coke cans" and repeating the unfounded claim that Hill signing a "million-dollar book deal" was evidence her goal by going public was to "enrich herself."
Yet Graham's obsession with portraying Hill's charges as "still-unsubstantiated" didn't keep him from promoting his own unsubstantiated smear, this one "innuendo suggesting that she was just seeking romantic revenge against Thomas." Graham concluded by suggesting that "Anita Hill should have brought evidence to the table or should have gone home." Graham never asked that of Bill Clinton's accusers.
When news of a TV movie in the works about the Hill-Thomas conflict surfaced in March 2015, Graham was in grump mode:
HBO is making another liberal propaganda flick and it’s sloppy seconds to Showtime. Lesley Goldberg of The Hollywood Reporter had the exclusive: Kerry Washington, star of ABC’s Scandal, will play Anita Hill in the movie Confirmation.
Graham offered no evidence that Hill was solely "a liberal activist who wanted to sink the Thomas nomination." Indeed, all he's doing is regurgitating Thomas' own attacks on Hill -- as if Thomas' word should automatically be trusted over that of Hill's.
But then, the MRC has always denigrated anyone who makes sexual harassment claims against its favorite conservatives. In 2011, for instance, the MRC similarly denounced harassment claims made against would-be GOP presidential candidate (and personal friend of MRC chief Brent Bozell) Herman Cain as "unsubstantiated" -- even though it was on record that the National Restaurant Association, while it was headed by Cain, reached monetary agreements with two women to settle harassment claims -- and the MRC's Dan Gainor similarly played the gold-digger card against Cain's accusers.
When that made-for-HBO film came out April 2016, the MRC went on the attack. Graham huffed, "In 2016, 25 years after her testimony, Anita Hill has offered no more substantiation of her unproven claims of sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas than she did in real time. But the media keep kissing her ring." Kyle Drennen complained about the "smear campaign" against Thomas based on " false sexual harassment claims from Anita Hill," incorrectly deviating from the standard "unsubstantiated" line.
Graham and Bozell were ready with more potshots in their syndicated column: Hill's story was "lurid and unsubstantiated," an "unpermissive smear" and "garbage," and the movie was "avianizing the victim" -- that is, Thomas. They also cite contemporaneous polling, as if popularity contests determined who was telling the truth.
2016: More knee-jerk Hill-bashing
Even in 2016, 25 years after the fact, the MRC was still engaged in knee-jerk bashing of Hill, as shown by Graham's Aug. 10 NewsBusters post complaining that NPR had on Hill to talk about sexual harassment allegations against now-former Fox News chief Roger Ailes (a story the MRC largely ignored, by the way). Graham showed us where this is going by grumbling, "Hill is treated as a kind of feminist saint, and no one brings up how she came to Bill Clinton’s defense in the adultery-slash-sexual harassment fight before he was impeached in 1998."
Then Graham played his usual game by adding, "A Thomas fan would laugh as NPR explains that Hill says she was 'ostracized,' which is an odd word for a six-figure book deal and a very secure professor’s job in New England." Again, he offered no proof for his suggestion that Hill was driven by visions of dollar signs.
Graham also complains, "Justice Thomas is always presumed guilty of harassing Hill." And Graham presumes Hill is lying simply because she had the temerity to make her accusation against a sainted conservative -- just like he presumes that every single accuser of a sexual fling against Bill Clinton is telling the indisputable truth because Clinton is a political enemy.
Indeed, Graham for some reason goes back a couple decades to discuss a 1998 New York Times op-ed by Hill pointing out that unwanted sexual harassment is different than the consensual affair between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Graham misrepresented what Hill wrote, falsely framing it as about earlier alleged Clinton flings, which Hill did not discuss in her op-ed:
In a September, 28 1998 op-ed in The New York Times, Hill basically absolved Clinton of charges of sexual harassment made by Paula Jones charges he later paid out $850,000 to settle by simply failing to acknowledge the case existed. That's not very feminist. Wasn't Jones far, far less powerful than Gov. Clinton? Wasn't Kathleen Willey far, far less powerful than President Clinton?
Graham then huffed: "Hill offered a feminist fundamentalism: Support abortion rights, and your sexual accusers can be ignored." And if the alleged perpetrator is a prominent conservative like Ailes or Thomas, Graham will indulge in a right-wing fundamentalism by happily ignoring their accusers or dismissing them as money-grubbing liars.
Hill served as the MRC's pinata yet again in an Oct. 12 post by Nicholas Fondacaro attacking CBS for interviewing Hill in the wake of Donald Trump's vile misogyny (which the MRC tried to bury by invoking the Clinton Equivocation). Fondacaro huffed that the CBS reporter "spoke as if it was a known fact that Thomas had somehow weaseled his way out of a deserved punishment. The CBS report failed mention Hill’s evolving story, or the testimony of other women which contradicted Hill’s accusations." Fondacaro offered no evidence to support those accusations.
A few hours earlier, as it so happened, Graham was complaining that Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan was responding to Trump's collaboration with Breitbart News to bring out various Clinton accusers by calling it part of the "truth-averse" nature of Trump's campaign. Graham huffed:
This is how liberals dismiss these accusers. "Someone granted you an interview on TV, the rest of us ignored it or called you trailer trash, and now you're yesterday's news." That's called "settled, in one way or another," in the kangaroo court of the liberal media. The media don't believe in justice or dignity when the accused is Bill Clinton. It's "hate theater" to even make us think about what they've suffered.
Yet that's the exact same way Graham and the MRC have treated Hill. Apparently, it's OK to denigrate a victim if the person being accused of being the victimizer is conservative.
Furthering the double standard, Graham said nothing about the, ahem, evolving stories the alleged Clinton victims have told. Juanita Broaddrick, for instance, testified in a sworn affidavit that Clinton did not assault her -- completely opposite to what she's claiming now.
And Kathy Shelton -- who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a man Hillary Clinton represented as a defense lawyer but who got off with a light sentence after irregularities in the case surfaced -- claimed that Clinton forced her to undergo a psychiatric examination the court record shows never took place.
Funny how only Anita Hill's story gets challenged by the MRC. But then, her story doesn't advance the MRC's agenda.
2017: Hill-bashing forever!
As a reminder that Hill is always fresh in the MRC's memory, researcher Scott Whitlock went after her again in a April 7 post, in which he attacked the Washington Post for publishing an op-ed by Hill on the Bill O'Reilly sexual harassment scandal. Whitlock huffed that Hill is a "partisan" who "accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment and excused Bill Clinton’s actions."
But Graham and Whitlock seem to have forgotten that Clinton was not being impeached over the Jones case but, rather, over his affair with Lewinsky.
Whitlock concluded by grumbling: "To recap Hill’s contention: Accusations against conservatives and Republicans warrant swift actions. Accusations against liberal Democrat Bill Clinton are no big deal. It’s no wonder why the Post turned to her for an op-ed on O’Reilly." Of course, the situation Whitlock reductively describes is the complete opposite for his employer -- which is why you've read virtually nothing about the O'Reilly scandal at the MRC.
It's also why the MRC attacked women who successfully sued 2012 GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain over sexual harassment claims. And it's why the MRC gave a pass to Trump's vile misogyny.
In the MRC's eyes, Hill will always be wrong because she committed the offense of making a conservative look bad -- -- and it will continue to bash her even though we're nearly three decades down the road from that alleged offense.