Some key players in the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill trial of the early 1990s are speaking out against HBO for inserting an anti-Republican bias into its new movie about the scandal.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cable giant is "retelling" that historic event on April 16 but many people who were involved in the hearings have noticed through reading the script of Confirmation that HBO "has manufactured a hit job against Republicans."
One of those people is Mark Paoletta, a lawyer in the George H.W. Bush White House who helped Thomas receive his confirmation as Supreme Court justice. He read through an early script and didn't like what he discovered, seeing an ulterior motive:
HBO made this movie in an election year to support Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, which loves to claim that a mythical "war on women" is underway by Republicans.
HBO, of course, denies Paoletta's claims and says he has never uttered anything about a Republican war on women.
Retired Missouri Sen. John Danforth also issued complaints to HBO after he read the script saying many scenes depicted in the film never happened and if they were to remain in the final version, "would greatly damage my reputation."
Danforth will have to wait until April to see what has been cut and what hasn't.
The former senator also railed against how the script portrays Republicans' treatment of Angela Wright, another woman who was set to testify against Thomas for sexual harassment. Danforth's memo stated, "You portray Angela Wright as a corroborating witness who is bullied against testifying by ‘unethical’ tactics of Republican senators. This is not true."
As THR points out, former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson "was much more forceful" about Wright's depiction:
"HBO says Angela Wright is the great second coming who we wouldn’t allow to testify, but she was plenty flawed. Clarence fired her because she called a co-worker a ‘f----t.’ She wanted revenge. I thought, ‘bring her on. I’d love to cross examine her,' ” Simpson told The Hollywood Reporter. “It was Democrats on Anita Hill’s side who didn’t want her. That’s the irony. Republicans were waiting with baited breath, and her people knew it.”
Simpson went on to say about the script: "Anita Hill looks good; Clarence Thomas looks bad; and the rest of us look like bumbling idiots."
Despite HBO's insistence that they are innocent of these charges, Simpson defended his friend Danforth for all of the "sh**" HBO "piled" on him: "If the intent of your HBO film was not to defame, embarrass, belittle and ridicule him, you sure as hell did a beautiful job anyway.”
Not helping their defense, however, is the fact that Joe Biden's portrayal in the film has been successfully lobbied to ensure he emerges unscathed. From the report:
Insiders also claim that operatives for Joe Biden successfully lobbied HBO to make changes that would reflect better on the vice president, who, at the time, was the senator presiding over the Thomas hearings. Amato [HBO's president] acknowledges changes were made after various people read the script, but not to placate political sensibilities.
HBO maintains its integrity in pursuing accuracy with this film and says because these Republicans haven't seen the final cut of the film, their opinions mean very little and have refused to engage in any serious debate with them. Yet, they will include the following disclaimer at the end of Confirmation:
This film is a fact-based dramatization. Some of the events and characters have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes.
And political purposes in this election year, no doubt.