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Revisiting What Happened to Anita Hill
The New York Times. I'm Michael Barr. This is the daily. Today. Twenty seven years ago, the Senate Judiciary interrogated Anita hill and Clarence Thomas. How what happened that is shape what happens tomorrow. It's Wednesday, September twenty. Sixth. Tell us a little bit more about what your decision to resign at this time and what motivations were you mentioned your doctor and your wife looked at the facts of the low, pull them together and came out with the. Would you share with us some of the medical facts? What's wrong with you, sir? What's wrong with me. Does story of the Clarence Thomas Anita hill confrontation starts in July of nineteen Ninety-one. When supreme court Justice Thurgood Marshall announced his retirement followed. This man's career for some time and he is excel in everything that he has attempted president. George H W Bush. The first Bush nominated Clarence Thomas a conservative judge to replace him. And I trust that the Senate will confirm this Ableman promptly Keith zone. Icke covers politics for the times hearing start in September. The hearing will come to order their questions about Clarence Thomas is fairly conservative legal record, but that's not a surprise to the senators who asking questions. So it looks as if this is probably going to be a fairly straightforward confirmation. But meanwhile, there's a parallel story developing. There are these rumors out there that Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed women in the workplace. So Senate staffer, sort of looking behind the scenes trying to figure out who this is and they get a lead on one woman and her name is Nita hill. So right before the hearing start, the Democrats call to hell and Email is willing to tell her story, but she's not sure that she wants to use her name or come forward publicly. The Democrats tell her she has to give her name at least to the Senate Judiciary committee members and the nominee Clarence Thomas has to know her name. Nita hill agrees that her name can be passed on to the judiciary committee and the nominee Clarence Thomas. She writes a sworn affidavit about her allegations, and the White House was willing to investigate as the White House willing to say, okay, we'll look into this. I think they understood that they could not just brush this woman away. The White House looks at over decides pretty quickly. There's nothing here. This is unfounded. They pass it along Thomas Thomas rates statement saying this completely false, but keep in mind. This is all happening behind the scenes. This is the White House. The Senate Judiciary committee need a hill. Clarence Thomas public has no idea. This is happening. Thank you all very, very much. I appreciate it. So this point Clarence Thomas hearings are over and it looks like the nominations going gonna sail through. I hope I get to see you next August, but I hope it's not a one of these hearings, but the full Senate has yet to take a vote on nomination. This is weekend edition. I'm we Ann Hanson then the story leaks, a woman who served as personal assistant to Clarence Thomas for over two years has accused him of sexually harassing her Tober sixth NPR and Newsday break the story according to hills, affidavit, Thomas after a brief work discussion would quote, turn conversation to discussions about his sexual interests. So suddenly need a hills. Name is public. There's much demand to hear more from Anita hill. I point that I want to address with you is the idea that this is somehow a political ploy that I am involved in after the story breaks. She gives a press conference. Nothing could be further from the truth. Senate Judiciary committee realizes it's got a problem. We ought to take an other day or two to look at this thing and make sure we're doing the right thing. It hardly. Is asking too much that we delay a brief time to more thorough investigate this to lay out the full Senate. They reopened hearings and Anita hill going to tell her story under oath before the Senate Judiciary committee. The next week, majority of Americans in poll released today say that they are not inclined to believe the charges against Clarence Thomas. The first reaction is that there's a lot of doubt about Anita hill story, professor hills, allegations, and credibility are the topic of much debate throughout wondered why she hadn't come forward sooner. They wanted why she'd followed him from one job to another. He was really sexually harassing her and the whole concept of sexual harassment in the workplace. The country hadn't struggled with us. We hadn't figured out what it looked like. And I think a lot of people thought it was kind of a bogus thing. It didn't really happen a ten year old allegation. Commit here known tried to blow him out of the water on the weekend before the final vote in an October last-ditch last-second political surprise. I think is reprehensible. He should be confined, and he should be confined tomorrow afternoon. From CBS news headquarters in New York here is Dan rather. Good morning, drama and history on Capitol Hill. The United States Senate judiciary committee is about to begin an unprecedented hearing the hearing comes back Tober, eleven, and it is a Washington spectacle, national spectacle, credit with television cameras, their lights nominee, the panel of senators all take their place. Joe Biden who's the committee's chairman democrat will come to order gals open the hearing, achieving fairness. In the atmosphere in which these hearings are being held and makes a statement talking about what a difficult day it is maybe the most difficult task, at least I have ever undertaken in my close to nineteen years in the United States Senate, and then they turn the microphone over to the nominee to Clarence Thomas. Do you have an opening statement, please proceed. Mr chairman. Senator Thurman members of the committee. Clarence Thomas makes a very brief opening statement as excruciatingly difficult. As the last two weeks of been. I welcome the opportunity to clear my name today. And in that statement, he all but denies knowing any hill. Contrary to some press reports. I categorically denied all the allegations and denied that I ever attempted to date Anita hill. He talks about how he can't sleep. He just wants to clear his name yesterday. I call my mother. She was confined to her bed unable to work and unable to stop crying his wife Genia sitting behind him, her China's quivering and the picture that everyone at home watching television and the picture that the Senator see is these allegations have undone, Clarence Thomas and there's this initial sense at least that this is unfair to Clarence Thomas at this good man is being taken down off is enough. Senate recess the hearing is recess for five minutes. An Clarence Thomas gets up and leaves the room, toll security is clearing the hall. She's in the hall so that she can. She can come down then need a hill comes in the room, welcome professor hill. She's wearing this electric blue suit. She looks very much a professional woman of that era. And I think that image of her really sticks with people particular with working women who might have experienced something like what she's talking about in their own workplaces. Please make whatever statement you'd wish to make to the committee. So here she is seated this table a black professional woman, and she looks up in what she sees is an all male, all white panel of Senate Judiciary committee members. Mr Chairman, Senator Thurman. Members of the committee. My name is Anita f hill, and I'm a professor of law at the university of Oklahoma. She gives a brief opening statement. She's very careful. She sticks to what she's reading in front of her. After a brief discussion of work, he would turn the conversation to discussion of sexual matters. She details. The allegations is conversations were very vivid. He spoke about acts that he had seen and pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films, showing group sex or rape scenes. Thank you very much. The microphone goes back to the senators and they begin grilling her. What was that incident again, the incident with regard to the coke can. It's statement once again for me, please. They. Incident involved his going to this, getting up from a work table going to this looking at this can and saying who put pubic hair on my coke. Was anyone else in his office at the time? No, it's almost like the more composed need hill remains the more the senators come after her. You. Testify this morning in response to Senator Biden. That the most embarrassing question. Involved. That's not too bad, women's large breasts. That's a word we use all the time. No, they most embarrassing aspect was his description of the acts of these individuals, and they want her to go over these graphic details again and again, in your statement to the FBI. You did refer to the films. But there's no reference to the physical characteristic you describe and I don't wanna tach too much way too, but I had thought you said that the aspect of. Large breasts was the aspect that concern you and that was missing from the statement of the FBI. I have been misunderstood. It's clear is this hearing goes on that the senators see, Clarence Thomas is man of rectitude whose reputation is being ruined. They're not really sure about Anita hill. In fact, they probably don't believe her. In trying to determine. You telling faulted on not. Got to determine what you'll motivation might be. Finally, the centers are done with Nita hill. Thank you. Thank you. She gets up. She leaves followed by this swarm of cameras. It's been trained on her all day. But the room is still in chaos really will come to order and into that chaos walks. Clarence Thomas judge tough day night for you. I know and Biden asks Thomas if he'd like to say anything you have anything you'd like to say, camera swing back to Thomas and you can just see he is receding Hugh so angry. It's like he's sweating anger today as a travesty. I think that it is disgusting. Any lays in the Senate panel and how many members of this committee would like to have the same scurrilous uncorroborated allegations made about him if up until now, this whole hearing has been about sex. And from my standpoint, as a black American, as far as I'm concerned, it is a high tech lynching for uppity blacks who, in any way deign to think for themselves. Now Clarence Thomas is making this about race. You will be lynched. Destroyed caricatured by a committee of the US Senate rather than hung from a tree. If it was uncomfortable in the room for Nita hill, it is incredibly tense and uncomfortable. Now, maybe Clarence Thomas, but definitely for this again, this panel of all white senators. Shrinking in their seats, cringing they are so shamed there. So chastised about this. And if they were inclined to push back on him, he's just de-legitimize that whole thing. I look forward to to questioning again tomorrow, and we wish you good night's rest, and we look forward to. So the first day of hearings wraps up come back the next day and the Senate Judiciary committee is set to begin questioning, Clarence Thomas. And as the questions began, it's pretty clear that the senators are going to defer to Clarence Thomas. And again, I go back to the point that you've made time and again, admirably that you had not second-guessed the professors, credibility until now came as a shock to you. As you stated at one point Senator Orrin Hatch, who's a Republican from Utah holds up a copy of the exorcist. This book? No, the exorcist, no Senator and says, isn't possible that Anita hill got the story of the pubic care from the exorcist in the exorcist pubic hair in a gym glass. It's not an a cocaine alien pubic hair floating around in my gym. But of course the implication is that she's piped this whole thing and that for whatever reason and we don't get to that reason. She's just making. This up and she's come forward to tear down this tremendously honorable man who's now speaking before the senators. And she would have us believe you saying these things because you wanted to date her. It's pretty clear that this has become a. He said she said situation, and that the senators at least believe that Clarence Thomas has the stronger story isn't the woman alive that would take the questions you've had take beep just repelled by. That's where the watershed is here. It is a good thing that this awareness goes up. It is a terrible tragic thing that it should bruise you judge Thomas. I went through that and some detail because it is my legal judgment that the testimony professor hill in the morning was flat out perjury, and then we will reconvene tomorrow. There's a third day of hearings. They call some other witnesses. One of them talks about Anita. Hill has a condition. This is rod mania on her part. My instant reaction was that just unbelievable preposterous and I said, must be a product of fantasy ago. Just knew these people and new players. Thomas, you know, that couldn't possibly have been true hills. Lers introduced that she's taken a polygraph test. She's passed it. Meanwhile, it comes out of their other women who can make similar allegations against Clarence Thomas about sexual harassment in the workplace. These women are waiting in the wings. Rented Heller stories. But Joe Biden, the chairman basically says, we've run out of time this entire proceeding is ended. Any gal took close. Outside the away from Washington, the whole country is watching this on TV screens. We'll sexual harassment charges derail. The Clarence Thomas supreme court nomination, and it's dividing the country, the American taxpayers damn sick and tired of this kind of a nomination process. Well, I think they're very tired of listening to the nominee do absolutely nothing, but questions. Black versus white. It's men versus women. It's a younger generation of women versus an older generation of women. They're all these dynamics of race and sex swirling. It's not as if I'm accusing you of robbing my house where I can show you evidence of wrongdoing, and that's part of the problem with the whole area, sexual harassment law, which I think, frankly, pure mush. There's a lot of debate and certainly a lot of people on her side. But I think in the end there was a sense that public opinion had shut Anita hill out in the cold. And after the hearings with judiciary committee, the full Senate reconvenes vote on Clarence Thomas Mr. Cochran. Mr. Cohen. It's a very tight boat. It's the Titus vote. It's ever been. It's fifty to forty eight, but Clarence Thomas is confirmed as an associate Justice of the United States Supreme court where he still sits twenty seven years later. During the court will rarely hear from Clarence Thomas. Really long periods of years go by where Clarence Thomas does not ask a single question. He rarely writes opinions, but he has remained very stalwart member of the courts, conservative Loch. We don't hear a lot from need hill either in the next couple of years, but we do hear from American women message is simple. We want action now and the fact is women have the power. Women have the votes, women's ballots can make a fundamental change in this country and mobilized together determined women will do it. The next year is a presidential year Bill Clinton's running for president, but it's also congressional elections. The events leading to Justice, Thomas's confirmation, particularly Anita, Hill's alleged harsh treatment by the all male Senate Judiciary committee ignited what some pundits have dubbed the year of the woman and when November nineteen Ninety-two comes and the results are in the number of women in congress has doubled. Back. The daily is supported by made? Well, the denim brand where the motto is good day, start with great jeans along with making great jeans made while works with blue jeans. Go green to turn old genes into housing insulation for communities in need visit any made well store to recycle a pair, and you'll get twenty dollars off new ones. Consider it an instant upgrade from those genes that haven't fit since college signed out more at made Ville dot com slash Denham recycling. So Kate here we are again, very similar circumstances, twenty seven years later. And I think now the question is how much has actually changed, and if we get the same and result as last time, which was a confirmation of supreme court Justice, accused of sexual misconduct, does that mean that not much has changed at all or not? Right. So let's start by talking about what's similar. So the most striking thing that similar is who's on the committee now on the Republican side. We have two of the same men who were there in nineteen Ninety-one with the hill, and it's all white guys. It's all still all men all white. That's a very visual reminder of how much has not changed and as a nineteen Ninety-one, it's come down to a. He said, she said situation. Once again, we have a credible woman making a credible charge and we have respected jurist who saying really outraged, this is not something I would do. This is not something I have ever done in my life. So it's basically the same central dynamic. She says it happened. She is one hundred percent positive at did the accused. The nominee is saying categorically it did not. Absolutely. And she has been doubted a lot, but the same Republicans who doubted Anita hill. So for instance, you have Senator hatch who is also Senator hatch other Senator. He's in his mid eighties and he saying, well, she seems to be mixed up. She seems to be mistaken. How much of what's diff. About this hearing, do you think is because of an effort to make sure that this moment the Cavanaugh Blasi Ford confrontation appears different or actually is different than the hill. Thomas confrontation in ninety one in thousand ninety one. The senators on that panel had no idea this political wave that was gonna move over them in next year's congressional elections, the year of the woman. Now everyone is aware of those consequences. They are very aware. The American public is watching this and that if they do it wrong, there will be an electoral and political and a social response to it. Absolutely. And it will be very quick and it will be very angry because women are already angry women burned after Nita hill right now they're already burning. So again to look at what's different just look at that room. The Republicans have said, they're not gonna ask questions. They're going to have an outside person, a woman come in and ask questions Dr. Blasi Ford has. Said, she doesn't want outside question. She wants the senators and Republican said, well, you just want to do it. So you'll have those same senators. You know, that's just political posturing. Well, in some ways, the Republicans could also be accused of political posturing because they to do not want it seeing that they had the same guys still sitting there. Fascinating. So senators may say that this is a positive sign of this being different and that these times being different that they're using an outsider, right? We aren't going to try to handle a sensitive interrogation like this on our own. We're bringing in an expert and a woman. But of course, the cynical interpretation of doing that is that they have eliminated the optics, which they know look bad, they've insured, the visual appearance of things is different, but perhaps not the more meaningful elements, the perspectives of the senators involved and perhaps not the end result of it, right. What they're saying is we are doing this to be sensitive. We understand so much how difficult it is to come forward. We want to ensure that we are sensitive in our questioning. But of course, the response is, well, if any. Has really changed. You would know how to be sensitive in your own question without having to outsource this. So let's talk about how this might end in the next couple of days or weeks and the significance of that. Obviously, it goes one of two ways either Cavanaugh becomes a supreme court Justice or he doesn't. And it reminds me actually of the twenty sixteen election and intense symbolism of those outcomes for a lot of Americans, Hillary Clinton wins, and we are one version of this country. Donald Trump wins and were very different version of this country that it fell like a referendum on who we are and it feels to me like that is happening all over again with Cavanaugh and Dr Ozzy Ford. If Cavanaugh is not confirmed regardless of exactly why the symbolism for many people will be that things have changed, Cincinnati hill that things are different. And if Cavanaugh is confirmed the. Symbolism is actually things haven't changed as much as we might have thought. And as much as many people had hoped. It's almost as if the country's on knife-edge with the sort of self image of ourselves, trying to figure out which way it's going to go. I think it's a really scary moment for a lot of people because there's certain amount of you go into this question. Cringing like you're not quite sure you wanna see the outcome. You're not quite sure if you are those women who are still really feeling loss, Hillary Clinton and feeling like that was a rejection of women trying to assert their voice in their thority. You kinda don't wanna hear that all over again. Obviously, it's a particular set of women, but I would say that if brick is confirmed, I would say that particular set of women is going to feel aggrieved all over again. But agreed is almost too passive term. People are going to be really angry and they're gonna see this as women not being taken seriously. Women not being heard like their attempt to speak out has been silence. It really doesn't seem like there's a middle ground here. If break have not doesn't get on the court, they're going to be all of his supporters and other people who think he was treated badly that this is political correctness run amok that if someone can destroy a respected jurists like red Kavanagh with an allegation from thirty six years ago, that any man can be destroyed, and this isn't just a women versus men issue or divide on that knife-edge it's many women to who think, oh, my son were accused of this or if my husband was or if my brother was, he was run out because he was conservative and someone like that can be taken down, and this is the kind of country we have now, and that's not gonna make them happy either. And I guess it was kind of terrifying about the situation is that these are just two people and that their stories and their lives are particular. Right? So it's gonna come down to when Christine Bazi Ford comes into that room. What's her bearing at that table? How strong voice sound? Does she seem credible? Does she seem believable? On the other side right cabin on, does he seem defensive? Does he seem to defensive? Does he seem angry anger? Good thing. Does that make him seem more outrage? Therefore, he's telling the truth or does he come off like he's lying? It's all going to come down to these little details not only from them, but it's also as much as might be senators asking questions they to ordinary people, and it's going to be how they filter it as ordinary people what they're seeing. But the symbolism of the end result will probably not account for all of no. In the end, it's going to be how much is this country changed and how much have we not. Kate, thank you very much. Thanks. On Tuesday Republicans on the Senate Judiciary committee said they had selected a female lawyer to question Dr. Blasi and judge cavenaugh at Thursday's hearing the lawyer will ask questions on behalf of the Republican senators. While Senate Democrats will do their own questioning in explaining the Republicans decision. The committee's chairman Senator Chuck Grassley who was on the judiciary committee in nineteen Ninety-one, said quote, we've done it because we want to de politicize the whole process like the Democrats politicized, the Anita hill thing. Later on Tuesday Grassley announce that the committee had scheduled a vote on judge Kavanagh's confirmation to the supreme court for Friday the morning after the hearing. Here's what else you need. Comes up and she said, well, might not to a gap sets. You would totally neabry. All messed up. Him, but my. Let's not make him the boy. During a news conference at the United Nations, President Trump attacked the second woman to come forward with allegations against judge Cavanaugh, calling her claims unreliable. The woman Deborah Ramirez told the New Yorker that during a night of heavy drinking their freshman year at Yale, Cavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party play a con game. She, oh, n. a conduct. Do they know psychology and they wake each other weekend. They know it's a good. And this is a very important day. Judgment day has come on Tuesday Bill. Cosby was sentenced to three to ten years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his Pennsylvania home fourteen years ago. Cosby had been convicted in April of assaulting the woman Andrea Constand who thought of him as a mentor, but ended up being one of the dozens of women who have accused him of sexual abuse, nine of those women along with constant or in the courthouse. When Cosby was sentenced. And I'm happy that the judge sentenced Bill Cosby accordingly, and I'm grateful to Andrea for standing strong moments after the sentence Cosby, who was once described as America's dad from his days as Dr huxtable on the show. Was escort to prison in handcuffs. That's it for the daily. I'm Michael. Seen them all. Fidelity believes nothing should come between you and your money. So they're introducing zero account fees with zero minimums to open an account. Now you can invest with zero tradeoffs, visit fidelity dot com. Slash value for more zero. Zero count fees, apply to retail brokers accounts, only expenses, charged investments, such as funds, managed accounts, commissions, interest charges, or other expenses for transactions may still apply fidelity brokerage services member SE SIPC.