Each morning, NewsBusters is showcasing the most egregious bias the Media Research Center has uncovered over the years — four quotes for each of the 25 years of the MRC, 100 quotes total — all leading up to our big 25th Anniversary Gala on September 27. (Click here for ticket information)
Already this week, we’ve published the worst quotes of 1988, 1989 and 1990; today, the worst bias of 1991. Highlights include journalists saluting Anita Hill while disparaging Clarence Thomas (“if you gave Clarence Thomas a little flour on his face, you’d think you had [former KKK Grand Wizard] David Duke talking”), and a Boston Globe arts critic writing about patriotism: “Oh, say, we’ve seen too much. The Star-Spangled Banner pushes like a cough through America’s mouth...” [Quotes and video below the jump.]
Perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect history textbooks to present and analyze events and epochs with complete objectivity. But it’s entirely reasonable to demand that they don’t actively reinforce the news media’s liberal bias when it comes to recent history and individuals who are still alive and active in shaping that history.
Yet commonly used American history textbooks have eschewed historical analysis when discussing recent Supreme Court justices, and in its place substituted partisan political commentary.
Linda Greenhouse the New York Times's former Supreme Court reporter (and left-wing ranter at commencement speeches), now writes a twice-a-month column for nytimes.com. Wednesday she hailed birth-control activist and new liberal martyr Sandra Fluke as a civil rights pioneer on the level of (naturally) Anita Hill, while tarring Rush Limbaugh as a thug, in "Accidental Heroines."
Will Herman Cain ever catch on that certain subjects -- such as the alleged sanctity of Anita Hill's sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas -- are no joking matter? (video and audio clips after page break)
ABC's Robin Roberts tossed softballs to Anita Hill on Monday, wondering what the "legacy" will be for the "quiet" law professor who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment 20 years ago. The Good Morning America co-host only once challenged Hill about skepticism of her charges.
Although co-host George Stephanopoulos teased the segment by calling the 1991 Supreme Court nomination hearings "controversial," Roberts' questions didn't indicate that at all. She prompted, "Take us back. What were your emotions?...Are you still angry?" Later, Roberts fawned, "I know there's still many books to be written, but [what's] your legacy?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Anyone reading the Anita Hill puff piece in Friday's Washington Post could see reporter Krissah Thompson was a big Anita Hill fan. But did she also have to be a lazy, handout-accepting Anita Hill fan? The only conservative skepticism toward Hill that the Post allowed were five words from Justice Clarence Thomas's memoir. But they were misquotes.
I have an autographed copy of the book from a Heritage Foundation dinner with the Thomases, and could not find the quotes Thompson used...until I found a New York Times op-ed by Anita Hill from October 2, 2007 -- in the week the Thomas book came out. It was called "The Smear This Time," and Hill misquoted the book. So did Krissah Thompson, copying Hill's misquotes...word for word.
Twenty years ago, Senate Democrats and National Public Radio reporter Nina Totenberg colluded to try and ruin the Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas by promoting the never-substantiated sexual harassment allegations of Anita Hill. If a woman ever claimed Barack Obama talked up Long Dong Silver porn films to her, you can bet it would be seen as an ugly, racist right-wing smear promoted by crackpots. But the liberal media presented Hill as a sober and centrist Saint Anita, not part of a lie-manufacturing left-wing conspiracy. (See Totenberg's activism in our new Special Report as one of the top 20 liberal excesses of public broadcasting.)
Hill strongly denied to the Senate Judiciary Committee that she was making these allegations for her own benefit or that she would be making any hay out of her time in the spotlight. Then at the end of 1993, news broke that she struck a million-dollar-plus book deal with Doubleday. On Friday, The Washington Post's Krissah Thompson filed a report that celebrated "her role" in the hearings, and completely sidestepped whether she was lying her face off.
Uniquely among the broadcast network evening newscasts, the NBC Nightly News on Thursday took a moment to recount an appearance by Brandeis University Professor Anita Hill commemorating the 20th anniversary of her Senate testimony making unsubstantiated accusations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for sexually harassing her in the 1980s.
Anchor Brian Williams relayed Hill's contention that "her role in the hearings was worthwhile," before playing a clip of her asserting that her testimony "was not in vain." Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Thursday, October 6, NBC Nightly News:
Liberal replaces liberal at the top of the New York Times masthead. The paper announced today that Jill Abramson would become the Times’ new executive editor as of September 6, replacing Bill Keller, whose liberal record at the paper Times Watch documented earlier.
Abramson likened the paper to holy writ, telling the Times's Jeremy Peters this morning that being named editor was like "ascending to Valhalla":
"In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion," she said. "If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth."
Abramson’s bias goes back to her days as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Commenting on Bill Clinton’s upcoming inauguration on C-SPAN's Journalists' Roundtable program of January 8, 1993, she enthused:
Yet another case study in how the liberal media never stop pushing their own interpretation of events: In a May 22 This Week roundtable about the arrest of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn for the alleged sexual assault of a female hotel worker, two journalists endorsed it as France’s “Anita Hill moment,” referring to the last-minute claims raised against conservative Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas nearly 20 years ago.
But Hill never alleged that Thomas did anything either violent or criminal — and polls taken at the time (USA Today, October 14, 1991) showed the public sided with Clarence Thomas over Hill by a nearly two-to-one margin (47% to 24%). Despite the public’s verdict, journalists have never cast the Hill case as that of a politically-motivated accuser engaged in a high-profile act of character assassination.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell, in a piece aired on Thursday's Today about Virginia Thomas' call to Anita Hill, made a point of tying the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to "conservative causes" but offered no ideological label for Hill. Mitchell also offered two sound bites from Hill supporters, but only featured a brief clip of an old audio-book excerpt from Clarence Thomas expressing sympathy for his wife.
After the NBC correspondent noted that Hill and her "allies" claimed Thomas' request for an apology was "inappropriate" Mitchell aired Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree calling Thomas' behavior "bizarre." Mitchell also featured Jill Abramson, the New York Times reporter and author of the Clarence Thomas bashing book, Strange Justice, questioning the timing of the Supreme Court justice spouse.
Mitchell did play a clip of Clarence Thomas reading from his book My Grandfather's Son, in which the Justice relayed how the two "shared the pain" during his 1991 Senate confirmation hearings, but then went on to bemoan that this new controversy "interrupted the secluded life Hill now leads at Brandeis University."
A liberal panel led by MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews injected sexism into the Kagan confirmation hearings on Tuesday morning, suggesting that Republican senators should curtail the tenacity of their questioning because the Supreme Court nominee happens to be a woman.
Invoking the Clarence Thomas hearings, which focused on the testimony of Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of making inappropriate sexual comments, Matthews asked, "Am I wrong in hearing flashes here of the Anita Hill testimony way back when in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings?"
Despite the absence of a sexual scandal, Matthews persisted with the bizarre analogy: "Are we past the sensitivity about a male member of the Senate grilling a female?"
The "Hardball" host failed to clarify exactly who in 2010 is sensitive about male senators posing tough but legitimate questions to a woman nominated to the nation's highest court.
From the morning to the evening Chris Matthews, during MSNBC's coverage of Elena Kagan's hearing on Monday, berated what he saw as GOP mistreatment of Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, calling their performance at times, a "brutal assault" and even evoking strange imagery of Kagan having pins stuck in her by Republicans. Early in the day the MSNBC host complained that Republican Senator Jeff Sessions engaged in "a brutal assault on this nomination" by calling her "pro-terrorist" and "anti-military." Matthews also claimed today's hearing reminded him of how Anita Hill was treated by Republicans during Clarence Thomas' hearings as he asked Democratic Senator Dick Durbin:
Some Republicans paid a heavy price for being tough with Anita Hill when she came to testify in the Clarence Thomas hearings. Have we gotten past that era of sensitivity about a bunch of guys going after a single woman here just bashing her?...Can these guys like Jeff Sessions just go at her like this without any fear of rebuke?
Then finally, in the evening, on Hardball, Matthews charged the GOP had turned Kagan "into a voodoo doll, and they keep putting pins in her,as a way ofgetting at President Obama."
The following exchanges are from live MSNBC coverage (as transcribed by MRC intern Matthew Hadro) of the Kagan hearings and the June 28 edition of Hardball:
On Monday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC’s Bill O’Reilly gave attention to the recent dustup between Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and National Black Chamber of Commerce CEO Harry Alford, as O’Reilly hosted Alford to discuss Boxer’s recent attempt to use other black organizations to discredit Alford’s opposition to Cap and Trade during a Senate hearing. While Boxer declined to appear on the show, O’Reilly defended her in his discussion with Alford, arguing that her attacks on black political figures like Justice Clarence Thomas are rooted more in her opposition to their conservative views than by race, while Alford renewed his criticisms of Boxer. Alford:
It was pure race. It was like down there in Mississippi back in the bad old days when one black preacher would rise up against the big boss. He'd go find another black preacher to fight against that black preacher. You know, it was ugly. And she jumped, she opened up a mud pit that I wasn't going to jump into.
The Sunday Week in Review cover story by New York Times Managing Editor Jill Abramson, "Women On The Verge Of The Law," dealt with the just-concluded confirmation hearings of Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and how things have changed and not changed since the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings, which also featured the grilling of a minority woman, Anita Hill.
At least that's Abramson's strange take on the hearings: linking Judge Sotomayor with Hill, the law professor and former Thomas employee who accused Thomas of sexual harassment at the hearings that riveted the nation. The story's subhead: "After Anita Hill, a few things in Congress changed. Not all."
Abramson's thrust is that the all-white male Senate Judiciary Committee mistreated Hill and failed to take her anti-Thomas accusations seriously. That should surprise no one, given Abramson's "Strange" history: She is coauthor, with liberal reporter Jane Meyer, of the 1994 book on the hearings, "Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas," written when Abramson and Meyer were reporters for the Wall Street Journal.
I thought Sarah Palin did more than fine on Saturday Night Live [Noel's got the video here]. In particular, during her Weekend Update appearance Palin displayed a speaking poise and polish exceeding that of the other candidates on both tickets. But Republicans who agree to appear on such shows put themselves in the lap of the liberal media gods. And those lesser deities abused their power last night, running a nasty joke at Clarence Thomas's expense during Weekend Update shortly before Palin appeared.
The set-up was the fact that, in a dissenting opinion published this past week, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts employed the style of a hard-bitten detective novel. That set up this . . .
"Thank God for CSPAN," Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas declares in his recently released memoirs entitled: "My Grandfather's Son."
Without the "gavel to gavel" coverage made available through an alternative media source Thomas tells readers he may not have had the opportunity to present himself to the American people in a compelling and straightforward manner.
Press coverage of his highly charged confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate 16 years ago was very weighted in favor of his critics, especially Anita Hill, the Supreme Court Justice recalls in his book.
Thomas contends Hill was in fact a "left-winger" who was permitted to serve up a false image of herself in testimony, thanks in no small part to a compliant media.
Former ABC reporter Michel Martin has a history of one-sided bashing of Clarence Thomas. In 1994, the reporter then known as Michel McQueen helmed a 60-minute special on the ABC prime-time magazine Turning Point highlighting women who charged Anita Hill was right and Clarence Thomas was wrong. Pro-Thomas colleagues at the EEOC were not interviewed.
Outraged now at the new Clarence Thomas autobiography My Grandfather’s Son, Martin used her new forum, the National Public Radio talk show Tell Me More, to interview Angela Wright, a disgruntled employee that Thomas fired, who then denigrated him on NPR as "a mean-spirited, nasty, you know, fairly unstable person" who carried around "his self-loathing and his hatred for anything black or civil rights-oriented or affirmative action." She claimed that the Democrats never wanted her to testify. But the actual record from the hearing clearly shows that Sen. Joe Biden read a letter to Wright saying he would honor her request if she wished to testify, and then attached a statement from Wright saying "From Angela Wright, 'I agree the admission of the transcript of my interview and that of Miss Jourdain's in the record without rebuttal at the hearing represents my position and is completely satisfactory to me.'"
In its October 9 editorial, the Toledo Blade condemns Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for his ongoing "savaging" of Anita Hill.
In a decidedly one-sided article, Hill is hailed as a hero for coming forward with her unsubstantiated sexual harassment allegations in 1991 against then-nominee Thomas. According to the Blade:
The Thomas confirmation hearings were painful to watch, but they were also important because they blew away the veil of complacency over sexual harassment. Women - and even some men - were empowered by Ms. Hill's testimony to step forward and file complaints and lawsuits against sexist practices that permeated the workplace and other areas of society.
On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," co-host Robin Roberts, for the second day in a row, intimated that Clarence Thomas was guilty of sexually harassing Anita Hill. Interviewing Anucha Brown-Sanders about her successful harassment lawsuit against New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, Roberts gratuitously segued, "Yesterday, sitting where you are right now, Anita Hill, who was here to talk about what happened 16 years ago when she was brought before the Judiciary Committee, with Clarence Thomas being a nominee for the Supreme Court..." Roberts then asked Browne-Sanders, "Do you think your decision in your court case can have a similar impact?"
Implicit in this question is the idea that Hill’s claims against the now-Supreme Court justice are true. Would Roberts use Clinton-accuser Paula Jones as a similar comparison to a modern case? On Tuesday’s GMA, the ABC host employed the same tactic in the interview with Anita Hill. Roberts sympathetically questioned, "Is it better now in the workplace for women?" Again, this leaves the assumption that for things to be "better," Thomas must have been guilty of making them worse for Hill.
Following ABC’s lead and sixteen years of puffball precedent, a CNN camera crew with an unidentified reporter caught up with Anita Hill in New York City and threw softball questions at her. The interview aired on Tuesday’s "The Situation Room," at the bottom of the 5 pm Eastern hour. The "unidentified male" used the term "painful" in two of his questions to describe Hill’s past in the Clarence Thomas saga. For example, "Do you think your experience, as painful as it was, changed the society and its approach to this particular issue?" I guess that’s the kind of "withering scrutiny from the press" Robin Roberts was referring to on Tuesday’s "Good Morning America."
The full transcript of the Anita Hill interview from Tuesday’s "The Situation Room:"
Is "The View’s" Joy Behar comparing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to O.J. Simpson? With a comment on the October 2 edition of the women’s chat show, it sounded like it. The "Hot Topic" discussion involved Justice Thomas’ new book "My Grandfather’s Son" and Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations. In that context, Joy Behar offered the following snarky remark.
"Why is he writing this book? He won basically the round. He’s the Supreme Court Justice for life. He should write a book, ‘If I Harassed Her.’"
Presumably she was alluding to O.J. Simpson’s book, "If I Did It." Joy’s comments amused even the show’s "conservative" Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," ABC host Robin Roberts sympathetically interviewed Anita Hill and asserted that her 1991 testimony in front of the Senate resulted in the law professor enduring "withering scrutiny from the press." Roberts also pointedly noted that Hill "passed a polygraph test. Clarence Thomas refused to take one. You passed one." An ABC graphic defiantly observed, "Anita Hill: ‘I Stand by my Testimony’"
The segment on GMA stood in stark contrast to the mostly positive and fair coverage Thomas received on Monday’s "Good Morning America" and "Nightline." (The Supreme Court justice has been promoting his new autobiography.) Reporter Jan Crawford Greenburg allowed Thomas to tell his side of the story and attack accusers, such as when Greenburg noted, "Thomas says he faced more racism in the confirmation fight than he did as a child in the segregated south."
As the MRC’s Tim Graham wrote on Monday, Hill, who accused then Supreme Court nominee Thomas of sexual harassment, hardly suffered through "withering scrutiny" from many media outlets, especially in the wake of the hearings. In early 1992, "60 Minutes" reporter Ed Bradley gingerly asked Hill, "When someone looks at you and sees Anita Hill, what do you want that to mean?"
Those people who thought Steve Kroft’s interview with Clarence Thomas on Sunday’s 60 Minutes was not tough enough should remember that Anita Hill received a very gentle 60 Minutes treatment on February 2, 1992. Ed Bradley drew out the disclosure that she was a Democrat, but went on with a set of gooey questions about whether she has Eleanor Roosevelt quotes on her office wall.
CBS made no attempt to investigate Hill's unproven claims. The purpose was public relations. Bradley began: "We haven't heard much from Anita Hill since those hearings, but she's heard a lot from people around the country: more than 30,000 letters of support, many from women who shared their stories with her and let her know she's not alone."
Bradley began by asking Hill: "You've been described as someone who is conservative in your positions. Is that a fair description of you?" In a clever, roundabout answer that any politician would envy, Hill agreed: "I think I am conservative to a number of people because I do have a religious background. I do go to church.
CBS's 60 Minutes got the first interview with Clarence Thomas on the occasion of the release of his memoir and ABC's Good Morning America is in line for the morning show exclusive interview with him to air multiple days this week, thus leaving NBC News out of the mix. So, the losing network decided to resurrect Anita Hill. Anchor Lester Holt teased Sunday's NBC Nightly News: “Her story. Justice Clarence Thomas speaks out, and tonight so does the woman who nearly derailed his confirmation. My exclusive interview with Anita Hill.” Though Hill's charges against Thomas look pretty tame through the later revelations of Bill Clinton's actions with women, Holt depicted them as “charges of crude sexual advances” and “shocking allegations.” Also, without any mention of the left-wing activists with whom Hill colluded, Holt sympathetically described her as “a reluctant witness.”