“Confirmation” bias

We have observed before that the American left never gives up. That’s admirable when it comes to matters of principle and policy. Here, conservatives also fight hard, though they probably could take a page or two from the left’s playbook.

But when it comes to he-said-she-said type factual disputes about personalities or events — was Alger Hiss a Russian agent; did Clarence Thomas harass Anita Hill; did Dan Rather and Mary Mapes rely on forged documents — the difference between left and right is stark. Conservatives make their case when the question is “live” and then move on. The left, if it loses, plugs away indefinitely.

Hollywood has become the main vehicle through which the left perseveres. The seemingly annual movie about blacklist days is one example. “Truth,” the blatantly untruthful movie about Rathergate, is a better one.

Movies are, in fact, a great method of undermining, if not overturning, judgments on questions of historical fact. When people see something on the screen they tend to conflate it with reality, especially if they weren’t around when the dispute was litigated or have largely forgotten about the matter.

Now comes Hollywood’s latest entry in the reverse-the-judgment-of-history sweepstakes: “Confirmation,” an HBO film about the 1991 hearings on Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against him. At the eleventh hour of the Thomas confirmation process, and many years after the supposed fact, Hill, encouraged by Senate staffers desperate to block the nominee, alleged that he had made various sexually offensive comments to her.

The matter was aired in televised hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate and the American public found Hill’s allegations unpersuasive. Thomas was confirmed and is well into his third decade of service.

However, Thomas’ “guilt” remains an article of faith among leftists. “Confirmation” looks like an another attempt to make Hill’s claims stick at last.

Mark Paoletta, who as a lawyer in the George H.W. Bush administration worked to help confirm Thomas, says the film was written and produced by donors to the Democratic party, and stars an actress who has appeared at the Democratic National Convention. Paoletta adds that “Confirmation” has erased the vast amount of evidence that cast doubt on Professor’s Hill’s claims. It has also deleted characters who don’t fit the pro-Hill narrative, he says.

Paoletta’s view is bolstered by former Senators John Danforth and Alan Simpson, two moderate Republicans who supported the Thomas nomination (Danforth had been a mentor to Thomas). Simpson called the script he saw a “seriously distorted” version of the actual confirmation hearings. The two have raised the possibility of taking legal action if the script they saw is the same one used in the movie when it airs in April.

“Confirmation” is, as I said, consistent with the left’s pattern of never letting go of disputes of this nature. However, the timing of the film suggests the possibility of an additional motive. In Paoletta’s view, “Confirmation” is timed to help presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and her anti-Republican “war on women” narrative. (Its production predates Justice Scalia’s death, so there can be no issue of it being intended to influence the upcoming dispute over filling that vacancy).

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if, with “Confirmation,” Hollywood is trying to kill at least two birds with one stone. All in the service of left-liberalism.

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