Clarence Thomas: A Biography

By Andrew Peyton Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE
Homecoming

A year after the confirmation hearings, Anita Hill remained a rallying point for feminist media executives and reporters. The producers of Murphy Brown and Designing Women, two popular TV comedies, offered pro-Hill episodes as part of this campaign. The offering on the latter show was entitled "The Strange Case of Clarence and Anita"; one of the program's producers described it as a "valentine to all the women who believed Anita Hill was treated unfairly." 60 Minutes devoted a feature to Hill. Throughout the interview, Hill was evasive and churlish. "I can't say enough that we need to get beyond those hearings," she declared at one point. "We need to move beyond that." Still, the interview provided free and generally sympathetic publicity. For all her protestations, the hearings made her famous and relatively wealthy. She garnered $10,000 to $12,000 per speaking appearance, often to rapt audiences at Ivy League universities.

The favorable media treatment burnished Hill's public image in a rapid and extraordinary manner. Polls at the time of the hearings showed that the public believed Thomas over Hill by a two-to-one margin. A year later, public opinion performed a somersault. Polls showed that Hill's credibility now either equaled Thomas's or exceeded his by up to ten points. The reversal of public opinion on Anita Hill would provide conservatives with their best case study of the power of adverse media bias. One black writer not aligned with conservatives noted in the Washington Post what was plain: "If there has been a shift in public opinion since a year ago, one can attribute it to a year of pro-Anita Hill effusions from white media feminists, including the producers of popular sitcoms."

The elections in November also seemed a national repudiation of Clarence Thomas. Alan Dixon of Illinois, one of Thomas's supporters,

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