Memo To: Howard Kurtz, “Reliable Sources”
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Bad Show
You know how much I like your weekend show, Howard. CNN’s “Reliable Sources” is one of the very few I watch on a regular basis. So you will forgive me, I hope, if I tell you that your last offering was plain awful, at least the first segment dealing with the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill story. The premise for the show was a good one, given the fact that David Brock, who was once a conservative journalist who defended Justice Thomas and trashed Anita Hill, has now become a born-again liberal, defending Hill and trashing Thomas. I even had the show taped so I would not miss it, after hearing the topic advertised. So what do I find? You invited Jill Abramson of The New York Times as the sole guest and proceed to serve her meatball pitches asking her how it feels to be “vindicated.” Ms. Abramson and her partner Jane Mayer had written a book AFTER Justice Thomas had been confirmed by the U.S. Senate, “proving” he must have been guilty of sexual harassment of Anita Hill, because they were told that when he still was working as a bureaucrat in the Reagan administration he had rented porn videotapes. Case closed!!
If you had been serious in examining this issue, Howard, you would have asked why the NYT devoted an entire column to Brock’s recantation, when its editors have known for years that he had switched philosophical allegiances. It also has been common knowledge that he seemed to do so when his former allies on the right accused him of betrayal when he wrote some nice things about Hillary Clinton. What your show did was make it appear that since Brock has now said his book was a pack of lies and the Abramson/Mayer book is not a pack of lies then Clarence Thomas must be a sex fiend in black robes. You probably do not know that there is almost no issue of public governance that I studied more closely than the Thomas/Hill controversy. And there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in Brock’s book or in the Abramson/Mayer book that fundamentally changed the facts as presented in the Senate confirmation hearings. Both books were tendentious and set out to prove Justice Thomas either innocent or guilty. As both the Senate and the American people had already found him innocent of Hill’s allegations, the burden was on Abramson/Mayer to find new information to reopen the controversy. I will bet you do not even remember the carefully selected assertions of their book, for if they had come up with anything but innuendo and hearsay, Justice Thomas would have been driven from the Court, which is what they surely intended.
The only point of contention in Brock’s recent confession in Talk magazine is that he was told by a “friend” of Justice Thomas about those rented porn tapes. In their book, it was imperative that Abramson/Mayer find that he was a porn-watcher because Anita claimed he wanted her to come over to his place to watch “Long Dong Silver.” In the Senate hearings, it was shown that when Ms. Hill was in law school, she almost certainly studied a legal case in the curriculum that involved a videotape entitled, “Long Dong Silver.” You see, Howard, the feminist community, including its mouthpieces in the major media, are in complete denial about Hill’s hallucinations. Maureen Dowd, an otherwise excellent reporter, has been “Blinded by the Left” on this issue, to the point where she ridiculed Justice Thomas in January, when the decision on the presidency was before the court. Remember her column, imagining what was going on in the minds of the Justices while they heard the arguments on Bush vs. Gore? She had Justice Thomas thinking he would like to get back to his chambers asap, to watch porn flicks. It was the most disgusting column I’d read in 50 years of reading the Times. I have not read a Dowd column since. Alas, your show contributed to the continuing lynching of the uppity Mr. Thomas where I’d hoped it would help clear the air. To show that I am not only picking on you, here is a note I wrote to Bill Press, the left-liberal co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire,” after he also concluded that the Brock book proved that Clarence Thomas was up to no good with Anita Hill.
* * * * *
Bill: The Brock book is irrelevant. The Senate trial of Justice Thomas explored every facet of the charges raised against him. After Hill testified, I was sure she was telling the truth and his goose was cooked. But by the end of the hearings, it was obvious she had been hallucinating all along, as Brock is now. She never said he laid a hand on her, as Packwood had with his ladies. She never said he tried to take her out romantically. And the clincher: After all the smutty language was supposed to have taken place, after all the "harassment," they drove together on a trip to the U of Oklahoma. The stupid senators never asked her why she agreed to this trip, especially since she was no longer his employee. The national audience understood the implications of that trip, which is why the polls showed that 2/3rds of the people thought he was telling the truth, only 1/3rd believed her account. Brock, once outed as a gay man in the GOP, is fighting for his life, as he has been caught between the GOP right-wingers who denounced him for being nice to Hillary in his book about her, and the Democrats, who can never trust him. Poor fellow might as well take up a new line of work.
I appreciate the fact that you have to play a roll on “Crossfire,” but in this case, I certainly hope you don't believe Brock's account. The demonization of Thomas by the left was the slimiest political event I'd ever witnessed, edging out Joe McCarthy's antics on the right. I supported Bork, but in the end praised Tony Lewis for having made the arguments that defeated him. The Anita Hill play by the left may have been legitimate when it began, as she had a story to tell, but after she told it, that should have been that. Hill in fact was "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty." I concluded she must have gone around the bend when Thomas married a white lady. If you would like to see my contemporaneous accounts, I will be happy to send them along.