Anita Hill: the Left’s Modern Alger Hiss

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

On Saturday night, HBO debuted its account of the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings. While it was billed as “meticulously researched” by the leftist screenwriters and Hollywood executives behind the film, Confirmation rewrites history to advance the myth that Anita Hill was a victim of sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas. The fictional “docudrama” that twists and omits key facts, and in some cases, outright makes things up, is yet another attempt by the left to establish through persistence what could not be established through evidence.

At the end of Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings, polling done by Pew and others showed that two-thirds of Americans believed the newly confirmed Justice and disbelieved Anita Hill. That belief was warranted. The overwhelming evidence introduced at the confirmation hearings supported Thomas. A dozen of Thomas’ female former coworkers testified in support of him – a fact that HBO conveniently elides. Meanwhile, Hill and her corroborating witnesses failed to present a consistent or coherent story.

Despite the shortcomings of her account, Hill continues to shill her story two and a half decades later. Some may cite her persistence as proof that she told the truth. After all, why would she lie? And even if she did lie, why should she continue to double down on her lies decades later?

But if recent history is any judge, we know that sometimes people lie with even less reason than Hill had. Recent false accusations against Duke Lacrosse players and University of Virginia fraternity members illustrate this point. We don’t know why Crystal Mangum lied when she accused three Duke Lacrosse players of rape. Nor do we know why “Jackie” concocted a story of being raped by several fraternity members. We do know that when subjected to scrutiny both of these stories, like Hill’s, fell apart. Given the lack of any apparent reason for the lies in these two scandals, it seems possible that Hill, an admitted liberal partisan, lied during the Thomas hearings. (If you want proof of her partisan views -- and on the subject of sexual impropriety by public officials no less -- look no farther than her 1998 Meet the Press interview when she excuses away Bill Clinton’s behavior toward Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey.)

We know too that sometimes people persist in lies for decades. Alger Hiss’s lifelong protestations that he was not a Soviet agent illustrate the point. A beloved figure of the Beltway elite and journalists who saw him as a hardworking and brilliant public servant at the State Department, Hiss was actually a Soviet spy who had betrayed his country. When Whittaker Chambers, himself a former Soviet agent, testified in 1948 that he had known Hiss as a communist agent, Hiss denied the allegation. But Chambers produced proof in the form of old documents written in Hiss’ handwriting, along with copies of State Department documents on microfilm, and Hiss was eventually convicted for perjury. Still, most of official Washington refused to believe.

It wasn’t until thirty years after the riveting and dramatic testimony between Hiss and Chambers, that Allen Weinstein’s 1978 book Perjury authoritatively documented in detail Hiss’s treason. Only then did some of his former supporters begin to doubt his account. (After the fall of the Soviet Union and the brief opening of Soviet archives, the Venona papers established beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hiss had a code name ALES and was indeed a Soviet spy.)

Yet Hiss continued to protest his innocence until his death. One might admire his audacity, but it does not change the facts. Hiss was a Soviet spy, and he lied about it for decades.

Likewise Anita Hill’s persistent lies cannot change the facts. We may never know why she lied about Clarence Thomas or why she has persisted in that lie for two and a half decades. But we know that Hill’s are not the only prominent allegations to fall apart under scrutiny, and we know that Hill is not the first person to double down on false statements for decades.

Like Hiss before her, Hill cannot substitute persistence for evidence. And the evidence shows that Hill lied.