Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: Danforth Takes Issue with His Portrayal in Upcoming HBO Movie

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: Danforth Takes Issue with His Portrayal in Upcoming HBO Movie

Article excerpt

That a movie about the Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas would portray former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth of Missouri as a villain should not be a surprise.

Danforth, a Republican who at the time was known in some circles as the "saint of the Senate," faced harsh criticism in 1991 and in the decades hence, particularly from women's groups, for his vociferous defense of his friend and protg against allegations that he once sexually harassed a former employee, Anita Hill.

Some of that criticism even came from Danforth himself, who in his 1994 book about the saga, "Resurrection," acknowledged that his attempts to diminish Hill's credibility went too far.

"If there is any lesson to be learned from the Thomas-Hill matter, it must be that service of a good cause does not justify the wanton destruction of a person, whether that person is Clarence Thomas or Anita Hill. I fought dirty in a fight without rules."

HBO, it seems, plays dirty, too.

The cable network has produced a "docudrama" on the infamous hearings called "Confirmation." It is scheduled to debut in April. Danforth has seen a script, which he shared with the Post-Dispatch. He's not pleased. The movie makes up scenes that never took place, he says, uses real characters and invented ones, and portrays Danforth, an ordained Episcopal minister, as a manipulative, partisan politician.

"I'm OK being the villain, if the reason is truthful," Danforth said. "The script that they sent me is just totally wrong. It's a hybrid of fact and absolute make-believe."

Danforth is not the only subject of the upcoming movie to complain.

Last month, former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and Mark Paoletta, who was a White House lawyer during the confirmation hearings, told online news publication Politico that the script was potentially defamatory. Paoletta threatened legal action. The Politico article indicated that Danforth, too, might sue, but he said that's untrue.

"I'm not going to sue anybody," he said.

That doesn't mean he's happy about the movie's portrayal of him.

He sent the HBO producers a four-page memo outlining at least 12 inaccuracies in the movie's script. …

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