‘Confirmation’ — HBO’s High-Tech Lynching

The left is masterful at rewriting history. Witness HBO’s TV movie “Confirmation,” which aired Saturday, about Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment 25 years ago, which almost derailed Clarence Thomas from becoming a Supreme Court justice. The drama’s makers claim that they didn’t take sides in depicting Thomas’ Senate confirmation hearings, even as a trailer punctuates close-ups of actress Kerry Washington, who played Hill, with stentorian capital letters: “It only takes one voice … to change history.” Another trailer proclaims, “One woman made a choice … to take a stand.”

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Apparently, because HBO didn’t expressly label Thomas as guilty, producers feel they can get away with saying they were evenhanded. One man (Thomas) made a choice and took a stand; where are his plaudits?

“The movie only has credibility if it’s not espousing one point of view or presenting only one side,” “Confirmation” screenwriter Susannah Grant said in The Washington Post. OK, then it has no credibility. “Confirmation” airbrushed out events that do not confirm the left’s revisionist view on the Thomas hearings.

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A number of former female staffers who worked for Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — J.C. Alvarez, Phyllis Berry, Nancy Fitch and Diane Holt — testified that they did not believe Hill’s charge that Thomas sexually harassed her and discussed pornographic films at work. Their spirited defense of Thomas was the stuff of drama. But rather than build momentum to a peak of their riveting testimony, “Confirmation” showed a quickie montage of former colleagues defending Thomas. That choice undercut the forcefulness of the women’s spirited defense of Thomas.

Stuart Taylor Jr., who covered the 1991 hearings, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that “Confirmation” also left out Hill’s hard-to-believe story that she followed Thomas from the Department of Education to the EEOC because she feared losing her job. (As an attorney, she had to know she had civil service protection.) The movie also focused on an accuser who chose not to testify.

Then there’s Ted Kennedy, the embodiment of the left’s double standards. A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the late senator had a reputation for hitting on women in the workplace liberally. In “Confirmation,” Kennedy aide Ricki Seidman acknowledges her boss might have a problem leading the fight on “sexual impropriety.”

There was no scene in which Seidman pressed Kennedy about his opportunistic treatment of women. Likewise, there was no recognition that when Bill Clinton entered the Oval Office a year later, sexual harassment lost its potency as a political weapon. Female aides’ willingness to prop up errant male Democrats — that phenomenon did not interest the “Confirmation” team, which stuck to a script that confirmed liberalism’s need to be heroic, especially when liberals are anything but.

Real life didn’t work that way. After the hearings and what Thomas described as a “high-tech lynching,” a New York Times/CBS poll found that Americans who lived through the controversy believed Thomas over Hill by a 2-1 margin. So HBO did a rewrite — and produced a movie that left the women who stood up for Thomas on the cutting room floor. In Hollywood, that’s a happy ending.

Email Debra J. Saunders at [email protected].

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