The Real Anita Hill

It was David Brock who wrote the hatchet job on Professor Anita Hill, the former federal employee who testified against Clarence Thomas in his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Today, Brock is the President of Media Matters for America, a website that runs transcripts of shock jocks such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, thereby causing them much embarrassment. Brock is a little too free-press for the Fox crowd now, but twenty years ago, he was a rising star of the Washington conservative establishment.

Brock was the one who labeled Professor Hill, “little bit nutty, and a little bit slutty.” He published a best-selling ‘expose’ that portrayed her as a hysterical accuser.

Not long after his book, ‘The Real Anita Hill’ was published, he learned things about Justice Thomas that led him to believe Professor Hill’s testimony. While reading Hill’s account of the episode, ‘Speaking Truth to Power’ he became overwhelmed with remorse at what he had written about her.

“As I read the passages where Hill referenced my allegations, I was again struck hard by the realization that I no longer believed in my own book, and for the first time I began to contemplate the personal consequences for Anita Hill of having been the subject of a well-publicized, best-selling book that attacked her, wrongly, as a liar. I made this woman’s life a living hell.”
David Brock, Blinded by the Right, p.295

Brock goes on to relate that he sent Professor Hill a letter of apology c/o feminist author Naomi Wolf. Professor Hill called him back, but got his answering machine, and he never got up the courage to meet her in person.

Meanwhile he agonized over the fact that he had given a woman he had treated as a political enemy a piece of ammunition she could use to take him down and expose the dishonesty of his attacks on her reputation. He waited in fear for her to make his letter public.

“As far as I know, Hill has kept [the letter] private to this day.”
Blinded by the Right, p.327

So that is the real Anita Hill.

The real Clarence Thomas can’t stay totally under wraps. Mrs. Thomas left a bizarre and somewhat threatening voicemail on Professor Hill’s answering machine years later. Mrs. Thomas is still waiting for an apology.

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2 responses

  1. Great post, Nancy. The brown shirt wing of the Republican Party seems to have quite a few of these mea culpe guys in their midst. How many more times are we going to allow ourselves to be deceived by them?

    I wonder what Brock did with his ill begotten gains from the sales of his book? I hope he donated them to NOW or EMILY’s list…

  2. I think Brock has exonerated himself to some degree with the work of Media Matters.

    But I liked this post very much, too, for the subtle way it caused me to think about retribution and when it is necessary (is it ever really necessary?) in relationships. There is a lot of it going on out there and it is very telling when someone chooses not to do it. Of course those people do not tend to be at the top of political pyramids, but they can be very powerful people in their own right.

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