Kerry Washington, the actress who plays law professor Anita Hill in HBO’s upcoming film about the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991, claims Confirmation is “not a propaganda movie.”
“It’s not a propaganda movie. It’s a movie about complicated people in a really complex situation doing the best they could with the tools they had at the time,” Washington told the Hollywood Reporter.
Washington declined to answer questions about whether Vice President Joe Biden — then one of the Senators leading the charge against Thomas — had interfered in the movie, or about whether she thought Thomas should have been confirmed to the Court, though she said that critics who called the film anti-Republican likely had not seen it.
The film, which premieres Saturday on the cable network, purports to document the controversial hearings into whether Thomas had sexually harassed Hill when they had both worked for the federal government. Thomas, who was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to replace the deceased Thurgood Marshall, the Court’s first black justice, was targeted by Democrats because he is a black conservative who rejected the left’s approach to race.
The late Andrew Breitbart would later recall the Clarence Thomas hearings as the moment when he became a conservative. In his memoir Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!, Breitbart recalled the hearings:
My sympathy for Thomas was utter and complete. I wanted to stop the hearings. I wanted him to be issued public, formal apologies. I naïvely expected that the press would do the job of forcing those apologies. I could understand how the mainstream media could accept Anita Hill and Congresswoman Pat Schroeder at their word. But even if the accusations were true, they amounted to nothing. Certainly a hell of a lot less than what Senator [Edward] Kennedy likely did to his female staff on any given Washington workday. This was, as Clarence Thomas perfectly stated, an electronic lynching.
So, in an act of absolute and pure desperation, I flipped the dial to AM.
Hill’s testimony would also inspire female voters in 1992, who elected women to Congress in droves.
HBO regularly produces political films with a left-wing agenda in presidential election years, aimed at arousing outrage in its audience of potential Democratic voters. In 2008, it released Recount, about the 2000 election, which many liberal Democrats claimed had been “stolen” by Republicans and the marginally conservative Supreme Court. In 2012, it produced Game Change, which mocked Sarah Palin’s role in the 2008 presidential election.
The new film, Confirmation, has particular significance in 2016, given the bitter, election-year partisan fight over whether to hold confirmation hearings for Judge Merrick Garland, who has been nominated by President Barack Obama to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away suddenly in February.