During his Monday smackdown on the Laura Ingraham radio show, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin declined to say yes or no when Laura asked him if he had ever met or interviewed Justice Clarence Thomas before he claimed the Justice was "furious all the time." Toobin suggested Laura should ask Thomas. In a soundbite Ingraham aired at the top of the 10 am hour on Thursday, after his hour-long interview was done, Thomas confirmed that he granted no interview to Toobin. Thomas said he "would have no clue" who Toobin was if he saw him on the street.
Deep into his Monday interview on NPR’s Diane Rehm show, Toobin explained the difference between Justice Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia. Thomas was "a nut." He added at show’s end that Thomas’s legal views were "highly unusual and extreme." He also predicted that if elected president, Hillary Clinton would nominate Barack Obama to the Supreme Court, a "political masterstroke" for Hillary since Obama would be an "unassailable nominee."
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:"
In my twentysomething days, one of the most infuriating, even sickening cases of media bias was something they inflicted on Clarence Thomas called "the Hill-Thomas hearings." That’s a very bland and generic description for a woman named Anita Hill trying to sabotage the Thomas nomination to the Supreme Court – first anonymously, and then on the record -- by telling wild and unproven stories about the judge’s lewd talk around her.
When I was invited to dine with Clarence and Virginia Thomas and an impressive crew of columnists and bloggers at the Heritage Foundation Monday night, I wasn’t sure what I would ask Justice Thomas if given the chance. I wanted to ask about the media, but Justice Thomas was very clear at the outset of his remarks about the media that’s supposed to know him best. He said "we’re not talking to the Supreme Court reporters." He said that would be like trying to train a pig. It would have been nice to raise Jeffrey Toobin’s forever-furious theories, but I didn’t.
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?"
Don't look for Shuster to be guest hosting "Tucker" again any time soon. -- from my column of September 26th.
Oy, was I wrong!
I had figured that David Shuster wouldn't be subbing again for Tucker Carlson after embarrassing his show, and MSNBC at large, with the tasteless "gotcha" game he sprung on Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), exploiting the death of a soldier for partisan political purposes.
But tuning to Tucker today, there was Shuster, the so-called MSNBC "correspondent."
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.”
Justice Clarence Thomas settles scores in an angry and vivid forthcoming memoir, scathingly condemning the media, the Democratic senators who opposed his nomination to the Supreme Court, and the "mob" of liberal elites and activist groups that he says desecrated his life.
The piece later notes that "Thomas has particularly caustic comments about the Democratic senators who opposed his nomination."
The top of Saturday’s Washington Post front page reads "Justice Thomas Lashes Out in Memoir: Book Attacks Liberals and the Media, Breaks Near-Silence on Anita Hill." The story by Robert Barnes, Michael Fletcher, and Kevin Merida begins by describing an "angry and vivid forthcoming memoir, scathingly condemning the media," Democrats and a "mob" of liberal activists. But the reader would be frustrated if he wanted details on the condemnation of the media: it’s never described.
Instead, inside on A7, there are snippets on racism in the Catholic Church, on Anita Hill, on his father, his mother, abortion, and "affirmative action," but no snippet on the media. Did someone edit out the media stuff after the headline and opening were written? We were hoping for some attack snippets on his NPR tormentor, Nina Totenberg.