How To Watch Clarence Thomas' Senate Testimony, Because 'Confirmation' Can't Include It All — VIDEO
A controversial film is bringing renewed attention to one of the most scandalous judicial confirmations of the modern era: Clarence Thomas’ 1991 appointment to the Supreme Court. Confirmation, which premieres Saturday on HBO, tells the story of how Thomas narrowly won confirmation to the high court despite allegations — which he adamantly denied — that he’d sexually harassed his colleague Anita Hill. The movie might inspire some viewers to track down original footage of the hearings, and if you’re wondering how to watch Clarence Thomas’s Senate testimony, you have a few options.
If you’d like to watch the hearings in their entirety, your best bet is C-SPAN, which has the complete video of Thomas’ confirmation. Be warned, though: Supreme Court confirmation hearings are lengthy, protracted affairs, and if you want to see every last bit of the hearings, you’ll have to trudge through no less than 48 different videos. If, on the other hand, you’re only interested in watching Hill’s testimony at the hearings, that'll be much easier. Hill’s remarks at the Thomas confirmation are split into two videos — here’s part one, and here’s part two.
The Thomas hearings attracted nationwide attention when Hill, a professor and former colleague of Thomas, accused him of making graphic sexual remarks to her when they both worked at the Department of Education and, later, the US Equal Opportunity Commission (EOCC). Hill said that Thomas regaled her with stories of his own sexual prowess, as well as graphic descriptions of the pornography he watched, and repeatedly asked her why she wouldn’t “go out with him.” Thomas denied all of the allegations, saying, "I deny each and every single allegation against me today that suggested in any way that I had conversations of a sexual nature or about pornographic material with Anita Hill, that I ever attempted to date her, that I ever had any personal sexual interest in her, or that I in any way ever harassed her."
Thomas won confirmation regardless, but Hill’s testimony had the effect of bringing national attention to the pervasive but oft-ignored problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. A month after the confirmation, Congress strengthened the Civil Rights Act’s protections for victims of sexual discrimination and harassment, and the EOCC saw a spike in sexual harassment complaints after Hill’s testimony.
Confirmation, which stars and was executive produced by Kerry Washington, has already drawn criticism in conservative circles. Former Sen. Alan Simpson, who voted for Thomas in 1991, said that in the script to the new film, “Anita Hill looks good, Clarence Thomas looks bad, and the rest of us look like bumbling idiots.” According to Mark Paoletta, who served as a lawyer on the Bush administration, “HBO made this movie in an election year to support Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.”
For their part, the filmmakers, the president of HBO, and Washington herself have said they tried to represent the facts as accurately as possible, while taking some creative liberty with some scenes outside the courtroom. "It's not about propaganda," Washington said. "It's not about taking sides. It's not about a good guy and a bad guy. It's about human beings trying to really struggle with issues of identity and morality and truth."