As assistant counsel to President George H.W. Bush, Mark Paoletta played a role in the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings for the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

But he’s taking on a new role when it comes to the upcoming HBO movie about the hearings starring Kerry Washington as Anita Hill, the woman who accused Thomas of sexual harassment: Paoletta is now leading an effort to fact-check the flick. Today he launched confirmationbiased.com, a website he thinks will combat what he calls the pro-Hill “false narratives” in the movie, with documents, video footage and other content about the real-life hearings. (Washington and HBO brass say it’s not biased against Thomas.)

While some other Republicans involved in the hearings have preemptively bashed it, Paoletta says his complaint isn’t just a drive-by one — he plans to “devote himself” to correcting the record.

25 years later, the Thomas-Hill affair is still a “he said-she said.”  Will we ever know the real truth? Probably not.

Most of us had our own opinions back in 1991.  I believed Anita Hill.  Seriously, what would have her motive been?

I probably believe her more today than I did back then.  Why?  Various life experiences.  I know more now than I did 25 years ago.

I watched the HBO movie Confirmation. It fell a little short.   From a historical point of view, there should have been a name tag on each character.  I thought the casting was mediocre, other than the two main characters.

The person I am disappointed in is Joe Biden.  If the film portrayed him correctly, I am disappointed in his behavior.  I just don’t remember all the details, however.  I was working then and I missed a lot of the actual footage.  I had to rely on news rather than CSPAN.

I spent the evening reflecting on how Anita Hill actually had more impact on sexual harassment in the work place more than she did on SCOTUS confirmation.  How many times have I uttered, “In a post Anita Hill world, that is simply unacceptable.”

I must confess–the worst case of sexual harassment I have ever witnessed was not some man picking on a helpless woman.  In was, in fact, a woman sexually harassing the men in the work place.  To say that she made the rounds is understating the problem.  After witnessing this woman in action, I had to seriously rethink how I felt about sex/relationships/harassment in the work place.  I think actually I am quite a prude about what is acceptable and what is not.

Your feelings about Anita Hill?  Do you believe her?  How about relationships in the workplace?  What really constitutes sexual harassment?  How have we changed in 25 years?



7 Thoughts to “Confirmation: 25 years later”

  1. El Guapo

    I remember that. I paid more attention to politics back then, and I remember the result was just a he said/she said where there wasn’t any hard evidence other than her testimony that he did what he was accused of doing. Of course it was fodder for late night comedians. I don’t think sexual harassment is funny anymore though.

    I know someone who was harassed like that by an otherwise very well respected man. She was a very confident woman. Eventually it went to court, and she got screwed. Evidently she didn’t follow to the letter the corporation’s policy for reporting incidents so they dismissed her claims.

    1. I never doubted her word. I don’t necessarily buy into every charge of sexual harassment, especially nowadays. I think there are people who are opportunistic.

      People also confuse other things with sexual harassment. Then there are the people who invite it and participate in it.

  2. Jackson Bills

    Odd that you would believe her and not the dozen or so accusers of sacred cow #1

    1. 1. I don’t believe I have ever addressed #1’s accusers in detail.
      2. I don’t believe the dozen all have equal status. i.e. the one who was paid by the group down in Charlottesville and who got a nose job out of it…nahhhhh….embellished.

      3. Before the fact or after the fact plays in. CT hadn’t been appointed. #1 SC was in office.

      4. Facts…those rascally little facts that keep popping up.

      5. Finally, what did Anita Hill have to gain or lose? She had nothing to gain and a whole lot to lose. Remember also she had been promised that her information would remain confidential. Also, there were other witnesses she told at the time her encounters with Thomas were going on.

      Lastly, I think you are too young to really know what things used to be like for women to complain about sexual harassment.

      Story–many years ago in a far off land called PW Co. the janitor took it upon himself to pat the young speech therapist on the ass every chance he got. She was right out of school and he was an old goat. He played it up like grandpa…rather than old goat perv.

      I observed this on several occasions. I mentioned that it was totally inappropriate to the speech therapist. She said she didnt think he meant anything by it plus she didnt really know what to do about it.

      I went to the building admin. over it. I was talked down to like I was an idiot and a trouble maker. I will never get over some male trying to make me feel like this was just something Joyce should accept. Blah blah blah…all the excuses.

      No woman, regardless of age, should ever have to put up with something like that on the job. Later, I found out it was pretty much the good ole boy network guarding one of their own. Oh, did I say that I was also ordered not to tell anyone and to mind my own business?

      1. Jackson Bills


        I agree with you that some of the many many accusers of #1 SC may have had nefarious motives… but what about the ones that didn’t? BTW, not all of them accused #1SC when he was President and not all of them ‘got paid’. Some of them worked with him and even worked on his various campaigns when they were sexually abused.

        About work place harassment, yes, you are correct that I am too young to know what it was like to work in an environment like that. I can’t imagine someone doing the type of stuff you mentioned in your example to my mother/wife/friend/aunt or any woman. Believe it or not I have also been the victim of sexual harassment in the office by an older secretary. At the time I was just out of school and worked as a desktop technician. She would always call in tickets claiming something was wrong with her PC knowing that I was the tech assigned to her floor. When I would get to her office there was never anything wrong with her PC but she would use it as an opportunity to make unwanted advances and at times it would get rather awkward. One time she had unplugged her network connection and called in a ticket. Of course I had to craw up under her desk to plug it back in and when I did she sat in her chair and semi-trapped me under her desk (that story goes further but Ill spare you the details…).

      2. Damn, I was just getting into the story.

        Perhaps you missed my comments last week about the worst sexual harassment I have ever seen personally was a female going after men. It wasn’t just one man and it was on the job. If I had had the boss’s hat on, I would have found a way to fire her. But I didn’t.

        Let me say also that I think that women have an easier set of mechanisms to put a stop to sexual harassment than men do. No one teaches men all the tricks to avoid it and many men feel like they can’t whine and complain about it. Somehow it diminishes their manliness if they complain.

        After this one charging whatever finally scored with the guy across the hall from me, she broke it off over size and then had to tell people. She did not tell me because I was perceived as older and not in that line of communication. I don’t know if he ever found out about the size rumors going around.

        He was really a nice guy and didn’t deserve that and I also know he didn’t buy into the chase right away. She went after anything that moved actually.

        I didnt tattle this time. I was much older than I was when Joyce was getting patted on the ass.

        Let me say this, if I were boss for a day and could make the rules I would really set up strong rules about sexual fraternizing in the work place. It causes all sorts of problems. PWC used to fire if it involved subordinates….unless it was someone is special favor. Then a transfer was arranged or a blind eye. (thinking administration and a coach with a winning season) Everyone cheered when the sexual harassing auditor got caught though. He was terrorizing the bookkeepers.

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