BRIAN LAMB, HOST: David Brock, author of the book "The Real Anita Hill: The Untold Story," what's the main message of this book?
DAVID BROCK, AUTHOR, "THE REAL ANITA HILL": I think the main message is when I watched the hearings, just like probably many Americans, I accepted the idea that we had a contest of equal credibility between two people, between Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. I think the main message is that when you look at the evidence, when you go out, as I did, and interview third parties, pore over the documents and the records, the battle of credibility is settled hands down in favor of Clarence Thomas. Anita Hill's testimony is really shot through with false, incorrect and misleading statements, and I think so much so that at the end of that particular part of the book it's very difficult to believe that what she said about Clarence Thomas is also true.
LAMB: Where do you work full time?
BROCK: At the American Spectator here in Washington -- actually, in Arlington, Virginia.
LAMB: What's your job there?
BROCK: Well, an investigative writer. I joined the staff just a few months ago, and I've been busy finishing up my book, so I haven't actually done a piece yet. But I'll be doing political stories of an in-depth nature.
LAMB: Where did you come from, to that job?
BROCK: From the Washington Times and Insight magazine, which is a weekly magazine that they publish. For the past year as I worked on the book I'd also been contributing editorials to the Times.
LAMB: And where did you come from before that?
BROCK: School actually, from Berkeley, California. Insight was being started at the time I was graduating from college, and I got a job on that magazine right out of school.
LAMB: As you know, your critics write -- and I'm going to bring a couple of them into the discussion in a few moments -- "Why wouldn't he think the way he does? The Washington Times, Insight magazine and the American Spectator are conservative publications." What do you say to that?
BROCK: Well, a couple of things. First of all, I would agree that my politics probably allowed me to open up some of the questions that I open up in the book about Anita Hill's credibility, about her witnesses, about the media image that she had at the time, and how I think on the evidence that's false. But I do object to the idea that my politics dictated the result of this book. I went into this like a journalist and not a political pundit. It could have taken me in any direction. I could have had a book at the end that was "The Real Clarence Thomas: Perjurer on the Supreme Court." I could have a book that came down somewhere in the middle. So, it was not foreordained that the book would conclude, as it does, that Thomas is totally innocent. My politics did not slant the reporting nor did it slant the results. In fact, Clarence Thomas is a Supreme Court justice. Obviously I'd have a much bigger book if I had the goods on him. The problem with that is that there just aren't any goods, and so the book focuses on Professor Hill and on what I believe is a false story.
LAMB: Paul Simon was here, the senator from Illinois who wrote the book "Advice and Consent," and he was asked whether or not he was the leaker in this whole story. He said no. What do you say?
BROCK: I conclude that he was the leaker to Newsday's Tim Phelps. As you recall, the story was broken simultaneously in print by Phelps and also on the airwaves by Nina Totenberg. My evidence for that is a little complicated, but let me just explain briefly. There was a five-month Senate-leak investigation by a lawyer named Peter Fleming. The Fleming report came out in May of last year. It was very detailed. It was inconclusive as to who leaked, but there are many clues in that report. I took that report and I compared that with other information in the record, particularly Tim Phelps's own book, "Capitol Games", which came out just after the leak report was finished.
In "Capitol Games", Mr. Phelps reveals that he had a source who had seen the FBI report. That was the crucial piece of evidence that Fleming lacked, and Phelps would not cooperate with that. I'm not criticizing the reporters for not revealing their sources, but Phelps wouldn't answer that crucial question; the question being, had he seen the FBI report or had he only seen Professor Hill's confidential statement? If you take that statement that Phelps's source had seen the FBI report, you go back to Fleming and you find that only five people had seen the FBI report before the Phelps story broke -- all five of them senators, Simon being one -- and then you trace back to contacts between Phelps and sources. In the Fleming report we can see quite clearly that Senator Simon is the only one of those five who spoke with Phelps before Phelps broke the story, and so by process of elimination, if Phelps is correct in saying that his source had seen the FBI report, that could only be Paul Simon.
LAMB: Did you try to interview Senator Paul Simon?
BROCK: Yes, I certainly did, and he didn't have time to do it or wouldn't do it. I'm not sure which.
LAMB: How often did you ask him?
BROCK: Probably three times in May and June of last year. I did not confront him with this specific allegation because he had already denied it five times on the record, including to Mr. Fleming, which I believe constitutes lying to Congress on his part. But I did request an interview with every member, in fact, of the Judiciary Committee, and I didn't get all the ones I wanted.
LAMB: Did you talk to any of the Democrats on the committee?
BROCK: No, I didn't.
LAMB: Did you ask each one of them?
BROCK: Yes -- not for lack of trying.
LAMB: Did they give you a reason why they wouldn't talk to you?
BROCK: Yes, some did and some didn't. Senator Biden took much longer in saying no. I thought I had a serious chance of getting with him. Senator DeConcini said he was too busy with his matters in Arizona. Yes, so I did get an answer, but no one actually did interview, and that's not so unusual. I believe Phelps, who, as I said, wrote a book about this that was published in June of '92, didn't interview any member of the committee at all for that book. It's a very difficult political issue, and it's not something that most people really want to revisit.
LAMB: Which one of the Republicans did you talk to?
BROCK: I had interviews with Senator Hatch, Senator Brown and Senator Simpson.
LAMB: Did the others say no to you?
BROCK: That's right. Senator Specter didn't do it; Senator Thurmond also didn't want to do it. I think that's the panel.
LAMB: Senator Grassley?
BROCK: Grassley didn't want to do it either.
LAMB: Did you talk to Anita Hill?
BROCK: I didn't, but again, I tried very much to do that. I had written a piece in the American Spectator in March of '92, and particularly after that piece came out I was very anxious to talk to both Professor Hill and Susan Hoerchner, which we can get into later. But since it was becoming the basis for a book, I wanted to get on the record, if I could, where they thought I might be wrong in my article. But she would not, although in the end Professor Charles Ogletree from Harvard University did do an interview which Professor Hill authorized him to do on her behalf, basically, which was in June of '92.
LAMB: Did you talk to Clarence Thomas?
BROCK: No, I didn't. He was not interested, either, in revisiting this. First of all, he hasn't done any interviews since he's been on the court that I'm aware of, but particularly, I think, the kind of approach I took, which was very detailed and going back and digging back through the two years that they knew each other, I didn't think he was particularly interested in my doing that either.
LAMB: Did you talk to Tim Phelps?
BROCK: I did. I had a brief conversation with Tim Phelps in which actually he asked me if I would tell him what I wanted to know. I had nothing to hide, and I told him exactly what I was concluding from his book, versus the Fleming report. He said he would consider talking to me or answering me, and he never did call back.
LAMB: Did you talk to Nina Totenberg?
BROCK: No. I had a research assistant named Hilary Adams, and we made at least two or three attempts to get Miss Totenberg. I believe she never returned a call at all.
LAMB: Did you see the FBI report?
BROCK: I don't really want to get into that.
LAMB: Did you see the entire FBI report?
BROCK: No, I saw portions of the FBI file. Thomas was nominated July 1, 1991. They did an initial round of interviews which was perfunctory -- what they always do. That was part of the file. As I understand it, the file was then added to with some of Professor Hill's witnesses, with statements from the FBI agents who interviewed Professor Hill, so there were many, many pages of this file. I have never seen the whole thing. I saw portions of it. I have portions of it, I should say.
LAMB: This cover I just showed on the book is black and white. Did you have anything to do with that?
BROCK: I didn't, no. That was the publisher's decision.
LAMB: The Free Press, why did they publish this?
BROCK: I think that actually the publisher of the Free Press, a fellow by the name of Erwin Glikes, had seen my American Spectator piece and found that to be interesting and had been carrying it around for a few weeks, as I understand it, before I, along with my agents, decided on the basis of the Spectator piece and some of the response that that got that we ought to float it as a book proposal. So I think it was a good match already probably at the time we approached them.
LAMB: Where is Free Press located?
BROCK: In New York. It's a division of Macmillan Publishing.
LAMB: Go back to the beginning. Did you watch the hearings?
BROCK: I did. I watched them at my office at the Washington Times with probably eight or ten other reporters -- I was an editor at the time -- who worked for me in the newsroom. They were all gathered around a TV set in my office. I was -- and I can produce witnesses for this -- I was one of two people in the room who, after watching Anita Hill's testimony, believed that what she was saying was quite possibly true. The others were far more skeptical.
LAMB: When did you begin to change?
BROCK: I have to tell you, I wasn't impressed with Professor Hill's witnesses on Sunday. I felt that the level of detail that they were corroborating was not all that persuasive, and so I began to change, although at the end of the weekend I was still on the fence as to whether or not this had happened. I had decided pretty much that the case was not proven enough to deny Thomas confirmation on these grounds, and if I had been in the Senate I would have voted to confirm Thomas because I felt that there had to be better evidence, there had to be something approaching a smoking gun, and we didn't get that, so I thought it would be a bad precedent to deny the confirmation on those grounds. But I never had any intention of trying to settle the dispute as to who was the more truthful witness when I went into this for my Spectator piece.
LAMB: When did you start the Spectator piece?
BROCK: I got an assignment about a month after the hearings were over to see if I could figure out who had leaked Professor Hill's charges to the media, and at the time I was actually researching another book on the workings of Congress and the foreign policy process. I didn't actually expect I'd solve the leak. I was going to write a piece about the politics of leaking, and that's how I went into it.
But very shortly thereafter I came upon enough information that I thought questioned seriously the corroboration for Professor Hill's testimony and questioned particularly the image of Anita Hill as a Bork-supporting, Reagan conservative once I started doing the reporting on Capitol Hill. And so the piece shifted. I never did really address the leak very much in that piece, but it became somewhat a speculative piece about some of the problems with Anita Hill's story.
LAMB: How did it all start? In your opinion, when was the first time that Anita Hill communicated with the committee?
BROCK: The first communication that we know of in the record is, I believe, Sept. 5 or Sept. 6.
LAMB: Of what year?
BROCK: Of 1991.
LAMB: And when were the hearings?
BROCK: They were Oct. 11, 12 and 13 of 1991, so it was a full six weeks before Anita Hill appeared on television. When an aide to Senator Metzenbaum by the name of Gail Laster first approached Anita Hill not actually to confront her -- they had already heard a rumor about this -- but to ask her if she knew anything about Clarence Thomas and sexual harassment without indicating that they already knew or they already thought they knew that Anita Hill had had some problem with sexual harassment, and they knew that, just to take you back six weeks before that. In mid-July a rumor first surfaced, as I can best put it together, in Washington that was gleaned at a dinner party here in Washington by Nan Aron and George Kassouf, I believe it's pronounced, of the Alliance for Justice, which is . . .
LAMB: What is the Alliance for Justice?
BROCK: One of the major anti-Thomas groups; a group that was formed, I believe, in 1980 with the specific agenda of opposing conservative appointments to the Court by Reagan and Bush.
LAMB: Who is Nan Aron?
BROCK: She is the director of that group. It is sort of the lead, I would call it, opposition research group; the group that actually goes out and digs through the nominees' garbage and that kind of thing.
LAMB: What is her background?
BROCK: She was actually a lawyer at the EEOC in the '70s before she came to the Alliance for Justice; I believe a public interest lawyer basically.
LAMB: And did you talk to her for this book?
BROCK: No. I attempted to. Again, all of the major interest group leaders who are mentioned in the book received certified letters from me requesting interviews, in which I also enclosed copies of my Spectator piece so that they clearly knew where I was coming from. I don't believe any of them, in the end, consented to doing an interview. Some responded, and some never did.
LAMB: As you went about this, did you have legal advice?
LAMB: So when you were sending these letters, it wasn't on a lawyer's advice that you had to have this?
BROCK: No. I just felt that I wanted to have a record. I also kept a very accurate telephone log during all this. I felt just the nature of the book, being a controversial and provocative book, that I wanted to be sure that I had a record that I had attempted that anybody who would come under any kind of scrutiny or criticism in the book had a chance to respond. So that wasn't on any legal advice. Of course, the book was lawyered later, but at that point I had already sort of done my homework, and I didn't have to go back and approach anybody.
LAMB: Did the lawyers tell you to take anything out?
BROCK: Yes. There were some discussions on certain matters, and there were a couple of things that didn't make it into the final book, yes.
LAMB: Anything important?
BROCK: No, I think minor things. The question there was always a level of substantiation, and I agreed that there were a couple of things that if I couldn't get more sources on I wouldn't go with, and I couldn't and didn't.
LAMB: From a journalistic standpoint, how do you deal with the fact that the other side won't talk to you?
BROCK: Well, other than to do your best to look at where they have talked, and they -- "they" being the leaders of the Thomas opposition -- are on the record in various spots, so the book is heavily footnoted in that respect from records from other people's reporting, even from "Capitol Games", from Tim Phelps's own book, so I did as best I could. Also, and interestingly, in the Fleming report that I already referred to, almost every important person in this case was deposed by Mr. Fleming, and there is a record in that report of their position on various things. What I already mentioned about the rumor surfacing in mid-July, I didn't get that from some secret source. That's in the Fleming report. And so I had the advantage, at least, of a lot of these people already being on the record, I think. That was basically how I dealt with that.
LAMB: The hearings were in October of 1991.
LAMB: Who is Peter Fleming, by the way?
BROCK: He was the counsel hired by the Senate to investigate the leak of Professor Hill's allegations to the media.
LAMB: Where did they find him?
BROCK: From a New York law firm. I believe he was hired basically by the Senate majority leader's office. He was not an independent counsel or a special prosecutor. He was an employee of the Senate.
LAMB: What time frame was he on the payroll?
BROCK: He began in early January and conducted a five-month investigation and reported it in May.
LAMB: And what were the conclusions of his report?
BROCK: Well, it was inconclusive as to who leaked, but as I said earlier, there are a number of pieces of information in there. For example, he catalogs, he doesn't call it pressure, but the telephone calls, the contacts from the Senate staffers to Professor Hill during basically a two-week period in which it seems to me she was being pressured and cajoled into doing this. Those telephone calls are all in the record. So it's really fascinating reading. Probably two or three chapters of my book are drawn heavily from that report which didn't really get all that much press coverage, as you might be aware. I believe page A18 of the New York Times, a one-day story, and I just can't help but think that if this shoe were on the other foot, so to speak, and this was Senator Hatch and the Free Congress Foundation, we wouldn't have had front-page news here.
LAMB: Why do you think that?
BROCK: Well, I think that the bad guys, so to speak, in this case were all of the liberal interest groups who were Senate staffers who worked for prominent liberals, and I don't think there was the constituency in the mainstream press to really take what was in the report -- a report that which on its own, I think, is a good story -- because the American public didn't know, and doesn't know really until reading my book, all the backstage maneuvering that went on to bring Anita Hill to the point of where she appeared on national television. And while that doesn't establish whether or not she was telling the truth, I think it radically alters the picture of Anita Hill as someone who had come forward and wasn't taken seriously by the committee. I believe that's all wrong. And so I just think that that's an important piece of the story, where this all came from.
LAMB: We talked to you about Tim Phelps's book, called "Capitol Crimes"?
BROCK: "Capitol Games." Although there were crimes committed in this case, there is no political will here to investigate them, in my view.
LAMB: What kind of crimes?
BROCK: As I said earlier, I think that Senator Simon and Jim Brudney, who at the time worked for Senator Metzenbaum and is now teaching law at Ohio State, lied to the Senate investigator when they denied leaking this. I think that clearly in the Fleming report there are major conflicts in the testimony given to him by Ricki Seidman, who was an aide to Senator Kennedy at the time and is now an aide in the White House, Mr. Brudney, Kate Michelman in conflict with Senator Simon on a key point. There has been no effort to iron that out. Now, I believe that Fleming was misled by some of these people. I don't exactly know who in each case.
LAMB: "Capitol Games" with Tim Phelps, a Newsday reporter; "Advice and Consent", Senator Paul Simon's book, another source for your material in here.
BROCK: That's right.
LAMB: Peter Fleming's report -- did you try to talk to him?
BROCK: To Peter Fleming?
BROCK: Yes, I did.
LAMB: Did you talk to him?
BROCK: No, I didn't talk to him.
LAMB: He wouldn't talk?
BROCK: That's right, although -- yes, that's right.
BROCK: I can't really say. Some of the responses were simply non-responsive, so I don't always know what the reason was.
LAMB: What did you think of his report?
BROCK: I thought he did an adequate job. I think he shied away from making some of the conclusions that I make in the book. For example, on the Brudney question, I think it's very clear in the record of the Fleming report that the copy of the Anita Hill affidavit that was obtained by Nina Totenberg could only have come from Brudney. I think he was the only one who had a copy at that point, at the point that Totenberg received it. He comes very close to saying just that in the report, but stops just shy of it. And so, that would be my only fault. I think on the evidence that was collected I think he did a very good and thorough job.
LAMB: Okay, what other sources did you have? You had personal interviews ...
BROCK: Right. I also had a chronology that Senator Biden's office issued at the time of judiciary staff contacts between the committee and Anita Hill which was later reprinted in the Congressional Record. I don't know that all that many people bothered to read that, but that's a fascinating document. There are many, many interesting clues in the floor debate that took place first when they were debating whether to postpone the Thomas vote, and, secondly, when they were actually debating the vote. I had the record of the hearings. I also had confidential interviews that were done of each of the witnesses that were produced for public testimony. Those by and large were sealed by the committee and are not public record.
There is one exception to that. There was an agreement made in which Angela Wright's pre-interview was placed in the record. But Judge Hoerchner and the other three Anita Hill witnesses were all interviewed previously on the Friday and the Thursday before by Senate committee lawyers. I had those transcripts, and, as you mentioned earlier, I had portions of the FBI file.
LAMB: And so somebody obviously leaked those to you.
BROCK: That's right, yes.
LAMB: Now, has there been any threat of an investigation of you or of the leaks to you about this FBI report?
BROCK: Not to my knowledge.
LAMB: Do you think they should investigate it?
BROCK: I don't know. That would be for them to decide. I think there are grounds in the book to reopen the leak investigation -- not the leak to me, but to reopen Mr. Fleming's investigation, and in the course of that they might want to ask me some questions, too. I don't know.
LAMB: What would it prove if they did reopen the leak investigation?
BROCK: Well, I think that Senator Simon broke Senate rules. I think that Anita Hill's privacy rights were violated by the leakers. My point here is that the leakers more than anybody else, more than Anita Hill, are responsible for what happened here. I think most people can agree that this was a tragedy for both Clarence Thomas and for Anita Hill, and so I just feel that justice hasn't been done until those people are brought to account for what they did, which was to subject Anita Hill to what she was subjected to over that weekend and to permanently stain Clarence Thomas' reputation on the basis of what remains even today as a totally unsubstantiated allegation.
That is not the way the process usually works, and just to give you a brief example, the sexual harassment allegations against Senator Inouye were recently dismissed, and the reason that the Ethics Committee gave for that was that the three or four women did not want to cooperate in the investigation. What I would say to that is Anita Hill did not want to cooperate either, and Senator Biden is even on the record saying that it was immoral to pressure her in the way that she was pressured to come forward.
LAMB: Where is home, originally?
BROCK: New Jersey -- Bergen County, N.J.
LAMB: Did you grow up there?
BROCK: Yes, I did.
LAMB: What kind of a family are you from?
BROCK: Well, a small family. I have a younger sister, two years younger.
BROCK: Yes, they live in Dallas now.
LAMB: What do they do?
BROCK: They're both retired now. They moved to Dallas about 10 years ago.
LAMB: What kind of work were they in when they retired?
BROCK: My father was a marketing director for a building supply company.
LAMB: And how did you get to UC-Berkeley?
BROCK: Well, at the time I wanted to get away from the East Coast and go to California, basically. It wasn't all that much more complicated than that. The politics of the place appealed to me as well, ironically enough.
LAMB: What were the politics?
BROCK: Berkeley does have the reputation for being a liberal campus, and so that was one of the things that drew me there, actually, although at Berkeley I did become disillusioned with what I saw of left liberalism.
LAMB: What disillusioned you?
BROCK: I found the left to be intellectually intolerant. This was the very beginning of the whole PC movement, the PC controversy, where speakers who came to Berkeley such as Jeane Kirkpatrick were being shouted down and not permitted to present their own points of view. I found that even some of the arguments that I made as a newspaper editor on the campus daily were attacked. For example, I wrote a column praising the Grenada invasion in 1983, and the argument there was never on the merits of what I had said in the column. It was simply that an editor of the daily paper, the Berkeley Daily, a progressive newspaper, couldn't hold such obscene views. There was a lot of that at Berkeley. I wouldn't say that made me conservative, but it did make me somewhat disillusioned with liberals. I had always thought liberals were for freedom of thought and freedom of the press and all of that, and it turned out not to be the case in my experience.
LAMB: What year did you graduate?
LAMB: Was there a point at UC-Berkeley where you said, "I am now conservative?"
BROCK: Not really, although in my senior year, the more I studied -- I majored in diplomatic history, and I did develop a fairly conservative viewpoint as to American foreign policy when I did study that, and actually before this book I haven't actually written about the Supreme Court or any of the social policy issues, and as I say in the author's note I am pro-choice and I am liberal on some of these social policy issues, but the experience of studying diplomatic history did make me fairly conservative on foreign policy, and that's pretty much what I'd written about for five or six years, I guess, before I came to this subject sort of by accident.
LAMB: And since this book has been out, how would you characterize your reaction in the press?
BROCK: Well, I've been pleasantly surprised with the reviews. It's been generally favorably reviewed, including in the New York Times and the Washington Post. I had always hoped that fair-minded people would come to this book, consider it, and that I might actually make some inroads with the dominant press, and I think that I've been able to do that. Other than that, I think that there has been, with major television bookings, probably if this book was "The Real Clarence Thomas: Perjurer on the Court," I would have more TV coverage than I do, but I'm not really complaining. I did the "Today" show. I think it would have been nice to have done the "Today" show the way most authors of books do it, which is to say you get your six or eight minutes with the host to talk about your book. In this case I shared my air time with Professor Hill's attorney. But again, I'm not going to complain. I think that the book is doing well and getting attention in places that are important for it to get attention.
LAMB: Have your agents tried to get you on some of the other television shows?
BROCK: Yes. We've had no success. If you want the gory details, we've had no success with Larry King.
LAMB: What's the reason they give?
BROCK: They're not interested right now. There is no better reason. To me, the thing is, you can completely disagree with my book, you can really not like my book, but I think you have a difficult time making the case that it doesn't make for good talk TV. I do hours and hours of talk radio all day, all across the country. I get lots of hostile callers, and I think it's a worthy exchange. And so I can't see the rationale for not debating what's in the book, you know. I'm willing to do that, to meet anybody who doesn't agree with the book or wants to challenge me on the facts and the evidence, but there's been very little of that. Anita Hill's camp, other than this "Today" show appearance, has been completely quiet as to addressing what I've charged in the book.
LAMB: How is it selling?
BROCK: It's selling well. I don't know when this is airing. It will make the New York Times best seller list this Sunday at number 11, which is May 16, I believe. It's been on the Publishers Weekly best seller list for a couple of weeks. It's in its fourth printing right now. Over 100,000 copies are out there, and so we're very pleased with the way the book's moving. Obviously, there is an appetite out there in the public for a story that really hasn't been told, I think.
LAMB: Now, it took a long time to go back to what you mentioned earlier, but the Nan Aron connection, the original contact that was made where there was a story -- go back to that point -- in July of 1991?
BROCK: That's right. The rumor first reached Washington in mid-July 1991. It reached Nan Aron. Nan Aron then very quickly after that took the rumor to Senator Metzenbaum's staff on the Judiciary Committee and also on the Labor Committee.
LAMB: How did she get the rumor?
BROCK: That's curious. I believe the best evidence is that a friend of Anita Hill's by the name of Gary Phillips, who is a lawyer here at the FCC, I believe, in town, was at this dinner party with Nan Aron and had previously spoken to Anita Hill, probably the week before, and for the first time ever in that conversation, even though they had been friends for 10 years, Anita Hill was asked by Phillips what she thought of the Clarence Thomas nomination, and she answered that he had sexually harassed her and that's why she left the EEOC.
I believe that was the transmission, although it's possible that Judge Hoerchner was also the person, because she had had a telephone conversation with Anita Hill on the day Clarence Thomas was nominated and she had a prior connection to a group that's affiliated with the Alliance for Justice. I can't rule out that possibility. The really key point here is that never before, there is no evidence that before July 1, 1991, Clarence Thomas' name was ever tied to sexual harassment by Anita Hill or by anybody else. I believe that this really began as a case of mistaken identity in which Judge Hoerchner in that July 1 telephone call with Anita Hill suggested for the first time, based on her own mistaken recollection, that Clarence Thomas was "the pig" that had done this to Anita Hill, and that Anita Hill, for whatever reason, did not correct that misimpression at that time and very quickly a rumor got started on that basis.
LAMB: Did you talk to Gary Phillips?
BROCK: I did not. I did try to speak with Mr. Phillips as well. He is on the record in various places. I have his confidential interview. He was never produced as a witness, but he was interviewed extensively on the Friday before by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I have that transcript. He also was quoted in the press. I believe there is a fairly large Newsday article that was a source for me as well.
LAMB: When you wanted to get some idea of how Clarence Thomas was thinking in this process, was there one person that you talked to on the record?
BROCK: How he was thinking during the nomination struggle?
LAMB: At any point. In other words, when you were sitting at your desk and this was all over and you were trying to write this book and you said, "I've got to talk to somebody who knew Clarence Thomas's thinking," did you pick up the phone and call one person?
BROCK: Not one. There were a number of people who were close to him either at the time that he worked with Anita Hill or subsequently and people who had shepherded his nomination through the Senate. I would say there were probably a dozen people that I talked with fairly regularly about any questions that I had about his recollection. I would have really liked to have interviewed him obviously, because when I'm reconstructing the events that took place in 1981, 1982 and 1983 when they worked together, I think some of that is of a nature that only they know, and so his White House handlers couldn't have answered any of those questions and didn't try to. But I did interview many, many people who worked with the two of them over the years and observed them on a day-to-day basis, and I think I have a fairly accurate picture of what the relationship actually was.
LAMB: Did you talk to Mrs. Thomas?
BROCK: I did not, no.
LAMB: Did you try?
BROCK: No, I didn't.
LAMB: At one point in the book there is a quote, and you'll have to tell me where it is, "If Gil Hardy were alive today, none of this would be happening." Who was Gil Hardy, and who said it?
BROCK: Clarence Thomas said that in the actual course of the hearings. Gil Hardy was a friend of Clarence Thomas from Yale Law School. He was a partner at the law firm where Anita Hill worked before she went to work for Clarence Thomas in 1981. Anita Hill had come here in the summer of 1980 to work at this firm and stayed there for approximately eight or nine months. I believe the import of that quote is this: Anita Hill testified that no one had ever asked her to leave the Wald, Harkrader firm.
LAMB: Where was that firm?
BROCK: Here in Washington. It was at the time a major Washington law firm, now defunct.
LAMB: When did she work there?
BROCK: From the summer of 1980 until 1981 -- July, I believe -- and that's about six weeks before she joined Thomas at the Education Department.
LAMB: Was she asked to leave that firm?
BROCK: She was, and that's where the Gil Hardy connection comes in. Gil Hardy was tasked at the firm with helping Anita Hill find another job. By happenstance, Clarence Thomas was expecting an appointment to the Education Department from President Reagan, and Gil Hardy asked Clarence Thomas to take Anita Hill on. Thomas agreed, and I believe, although I haven't questioned Thomas on this, but I believe the meaning of that quote is that Anita Hill, when she was in trouble at this law firm, either was also being sexually harassed at the law firm at the same time she was about to be fired or used sexual harassment as a way of explaining to some of her friends why she was going to have this abrupt and probably embarrassing departure from her first job here in Washington. The evidence that Clarence Thomas was aware about is in the book. Senator Danforth told me in an interview that during this weekend Clarence Thomas told Danforth that he recalled that when Anita Hill came to him she had said that she had to leave the firm because she was being sexually harassed. There is some other evidence. Diane Holt has the same recollection. Carleton Stewart, another special assistant to Thomas, has a similar recollection. The funny thing is that Thomas knew that, but what he didn't know was that the main corroboration for the story, coming from Susan Hoerchner, as it did . . .
LAMB: Let me just stop you. You've mentioned her many times. For those that remember watching the hearings, who was Susan Hoerchner?
BROCK: She is an administrative law judge in California.
LAMB: What does she look like?
BROCK: Reddish-blond hair and aviator-style glasses. She appeared on the Anita Hill panel on Sunday.
LAMB: OK, go ahead. I'm sorry.
BROCK: Well, the important link here is that other people in the Thomas camp knew or were aware that Anita Hill had claimed sexual harassment at the firm. But again, that wouldn't necessarily be all that relevant to the Thomas case. It's certainly possible that she was harassed there, and now she was claiming that she was harassed by Thomas as well.
What they didn't know was that in the record of Judge Hoerchner's pre-interview -- the interview that they did prior to her testimony, in the FBI file and in the Biden chronology which Harry Grant, the chief nominations clerk to Senator Biden, interviewed Judge Hoerchner on September 18, I believe -- in all those three places Judge Hoerchner places the date of the crucial call from Anita Hill in which she complained of sexual harassment as being in the spring of 1981. That is six months before Anita Hill ever met or went to work for Clarence Thomas. It's nine months before, according to her own account, the harassment began at the Education Department.
This is complicated, but the crucial thing is not so much the date -- I think you or I could probably forget a date from 10 years ago -- but in the interview Judge Hoerchner clearly recalls that she moved from the East Coast to California in September 1981, which is the same moment that Anita Hill went to work for Clarence Thomas. Hoerchner and Hill lost contact at that point. She's quite clear that the complaint of harassment came in the context of weekly telephone calls that she had with Anita Hill while the two of them worked here in Washington, where they updated each other on how they were doing at work and things of that nature. And so I think if you take Anita Hill's complaint of sexual harassment at the firm and you take the Hoerchner corroboration and you put those together, the pillars of Anita Hill's story begin to crumble.
LAMB: Where did you learn that Clarence Thomas was in favor of having Anita Hill testify on his behalf at his confirmation hearings, before any of this happened?
BROCK: I first heard that from a White House official, and then later went back to find out who that Justice Department official was and confirmed that with him. He's not named in the book, but the story is that the weekend of, I believe, September 12 and 13, that period of time, which is six weeks before Anita Hill came forward, this fellow and Clarence Thomas were mulling over a list of potential witnesses and Anita Hill was suggested, and then Judge Thomas told him that she was now at the University of Oklahoma and encouraged the contact.
LAMB: How often do you feel like you just want to say to somebody, "Look, go read the book?"
BROCK: Very often.
LAMB: In all seriousness, how important is it? I mean, we are all over the lot here.
BROCK: Right. I know. The thing is, if this had a simple answer we would have known about it a year and a half ago, and so the book is very complicated.
LAMB: What I'm getting at is how did you set the book up and what else is in there, because we're not about to cover all of it.
BROCK: A crucial thing we haven't covered, which more than how Anita Hill came forward, is what I said at the outset, which was the contest of credibility. I believe that Chapter 5, which is called "In Her Own Words," shows that at virtually every turn in Anita Hill's testimony there is a factual problem with what she said. Just to give you what I think is a very good example because it also goes to the question of how this was handled at the time, Anita Hill in her Senate testimony was asked why she followed Clarence Thomas from the Education Department to the EEOC. There was a lot of speculation about this at the time as to whether or not a typical harassment victim would behave in this manner. Certainly, I don't think that's anything I can settle, and I try to stay away from in the book the sexual and racial politics of all this. But I think what I could settle was were her answers correct, and just very briefly, she said that she feared for her job; she said that she did not know who Clarence Thomas' successor was at the Education Department so she could not inquire about her status; she said she didn't know whether she was a Schedule A career employee or a Schedule C political appointee.
I went out and interviewed the fellow who replaced Thomas at the Education Department. His name is Harry Singleton, and he is a lawyer here in town. He told me that certainly he was on the job site 10 weeks before Hill and Thomas left. He had numerous discussions with Anita Hill. He had gone to Yale as well and had a fair amount in common with him. Clearly, she knew who he was. In one of those discussions he asked her to stay on as his special assistant in the same job that she had with Thomas. Her answer was, "Oh, no, I'm going with Clarence," so I don't think it's correct that she feared for her job.
And, thirdly, the fellow who was then the chief of the personnel department at the Education Department, Andrew Fishel, told me that he had personally briefed Anita Hill on her first day of employment as to what Schedule A meant versus C; that whether her boss stayed or no matter what happened with her boss she had a career appointment at the department. When he did an exit interview with her he was curious as to whether or not she was maintaining her Schedule A status or moving to a political appointment at EEOC, and her answer, I believe, was that she was remaining a Schedule A. She liked that because she knew that she could never be fired. So, that's just one sequence that I think demonstrates that Anita Hill had a problem telling the truth in her Senate testimony. I agree that you can't necessarily disprove what happened between two people in a closed room 10 years ago -- you can't prove a negative -- but when you take each piece of Anita Hill's testimony I think you can pretty much disprove each piece of that along the way. And so the accumulation of that evidence, I think, would just show that Clarence Thomas was the more believable or reliable witness.
LAMB: In your opinion, did Clarence Thomas tell the truth all of the time?
BROCK: Yes, as far as I could determine. You know, my book does focus on Professor Hill, but that doesn't mean that I didn't also try to find holes in Clarence Thomas's testimony, try to find discrepancies in his testimony. Everybody I interviewed when I went back to interview people who had worked with them together, I not only asked about Anita Hill, I asked about Clarence Thomas, about how he behaved at the EEOC, about how he comported himself, and I believe that Thomas was telling the absolute truth. I believe he was basically an innocent bystander in all of this, he was blind-sided. He had nothing to fear from Anita Hill because he had never behaved in the way that she charges. Again, there was nothing preventing me in the book from coming out in a gray area on this and finding that, well, maybe he had asked her for a date or the various other things that people are still asking me about. I don't believe it. There is no evidence for it. I just think it's contrary to everything that I know and that anybody else knows who's looked into it about Clarence Thomas.
LAMB: One of our recent guests on "Booknotes" was Anna Quindlen, who writes for the New York Times, and she wrote a column on April the 24th about you. The headline is "The Real Anita Hill?" "Even the more compelling contradictions lie within the shadow of Mr. Brock's overwhelmingly one-sided reporting. The sources in the main fall into two categories -- friends of Justice Thomas and anonymous detractors of Professor Hill."
BROCK: Let me explain that. The sources for the period where I'm trying to piece together what happened to Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill when they worked together, I have to say every one of them believed Clarence Thomas. Not one of them believed Anita Hill. These are not only my own sources. There is no one anywhere who has ever surfaced who observed the two on a day-to-day basis who believed her. So, yes, those sources are skewed, but I think that says more about Anita Hill and her story than it does about my reporting.
On the other sources, it's absolutely not true. For example, Andrew Fishel, who I just mentioned, is a career civil servant. I have no idea what he thinks about Thomas, the Thomas nomination or politics in general. The two FBI agents, who clearly later said that there were discrepancies from Anita Hill's original interview when they watched it themselves on Friday morning from what they were seeing on TV, I have no idea what they think of Clarence Thomas or where they are politically. So, I would reject that part of it.
LAMB: "When Clarence Thomas supports black protégés, this is seen as praiseworthy. When Professor Hill is accused of favoring black students, she is a reverse racist."
BROCK: I think that the tone or the tenor of the characterization of Anita Hill's views on race in the book is accurate. I think that in the classroom there is ample evidence that she is a reverse racist. Again, I don't find that in Clarence Thomas. That's probably a matter of opinion. I can't see accusing him of the same.
LAMB: Anna Quindlen writes, "Professor Hill is portrayed as a nasty person, short of temper and of intellect, yet she appeared unusually patient and intelligent before the Judiciary Committee and millions of Americans."
BROCK: I agree with that. I think one of the lessons in the book is that appearances are not always what they seem, that we can't judge from what we see always on television in a highly charged atmosphere like that. I had the same impression when I saw Anita Hill. I don't think it means all that much. I think that nobody really knew that much about her at the time. She did a credible job testifying for three or four hours from what you could see, but what we didn't know was, for example, the sequence I just went through with Harry Singleton, we didn't know that Singleton had said this very thing, that Anita Hill was lying to the committee, in an affidavit that Senator Biden refused to introduce into the record. So, my only point is that you have to go back and take a sober and reasoned look at this and go back and sift through the evidence to make a better judgment.
LAMB: You interviewed how many former students of Anita Hill at the University of Oklahoma?
BROCK: I would say probably more than a dozen.
LAMB: Did any of them like her?
BROCK: Sure, yes. The only point here is that some people like Anita Hill and some people don't. I think that's the case with most professors probably. She has a certain popularity. There was a universal judgment that she's not a good law professor, and, again, the relevance there has to do with the whole sequence of Anita Hill's career pattern where I'm establishing that in difficult professional situations Anita Hill has charged both sexual and racial discrimination to account for those difficulties. There is an anecdote in the book where at one point at the University of Oklahoma students in her class were so distraught that she wasn't preparing for class that they did the same thing. They didn't prepare for a class. When she began calling on them, each one answered that they hadn't prepared, and she slammed down her book and accused the entire class of racism. And so I'm not making a big issue of Anita Hill's competence, only as it relates to understanding who I think the real person is and how she's tended to rely on these kinds of excuses over the years.
LAMB: Anna Quindlen writes, "Ultimately, the book relies on the idea that Professor Hill was politically motivated to oppose a conservative who had been her mentor, yet surely Mr. Brock would be affronted at the suggestion that at his job at the American Spectator, a conservative journal -- miming Mr. Brock's style, I could call it an ultra-conservative journal -- would provide him with the motive to slant his book."
BROCK: As I said earlier, I completely object to that. I can't see what my motive could have been to slant my book. I don't know Clarence Thomas, I'm not ...
LAMB: Have you ever met him?
BROCK: No. I'm not carrying a brief for Clarence Thomas. This book could have come out in any of a variety of ways. My politics didn't dictate the result, so I don't know what else to say about that. On the ultra-conservative, ultra-liberal business, what I would say is this: Anita Hill was presented at the time as someone who was cut from the same political cloth as Clarence Thomas. If we are now debating whether she is an ultra-liberal or a liberal, if Anna Quindlan doesn't like my use of the term liberal feminist or liberal activist, I've already won the point, as I see it. She's clearly not a political protégé of Clarence Thomas, and that is a key part of the motive of how we were told time and again that there couldn't possibly be a motive here.
LAMB: Not to belabor the Anna Quindlan column, but she's a liberal, and it gives us a chance to get the other side. She says, "Mr. Brock received a grant from the John M. Olin Foundation, a champion of conservative causes. The book is not only steeped in ideology, it was financed by it."
BROCK: Let me give you the facts on it, and let listeners judge themselves.
LAMB: There is another foundation, too. Wasn't it the Bradley Foundation?
BROCK: The Bradley Foundation, right. On the Olin Foundation -- and the same holds true for Bradley, but I'll just tell you the Olin sequence -- I sold this book in March 1992 after having published the American Spectator article. I sold it for an advance that was quite enough to keep the book financed for more than a year, for the entire time I worked on it. Several months into the book I was approached by the Olin Foundation -- I did not approach them -- and I was asked if there was anything they could do financially to help them. At that point I felt I could use a research assistant. I first said no, but then did take a $5,000 Olin Foundation grant which went to pay Hilary Adams, who is mentioned in the author's note. Olin then contacted Bradley and asked them to make a matching grant, and so there was money from these foundations involved here, but the idea that they financed the project is wrong. The project was going forward, and it would have come to fruition without that money. It just made it easier for me to hire a research assistant, and that's not so unusual, I don't think, anyway.
LAMB: Back to the original story, what do you think of Tim Phelps with Newsday and the first one to get the leak?
BROCK: Yes. He and Totenberg simultaneously on that Saturday, and as best as I can tell, that was coincidental. They were both working on the story very intensely during that week. Well, my criticism of Phelps is basically very similar to my criticism of Totenberg, which is that I think that the press tends to cover the courts too much like they're political institutions and covers judicial nominations like they're political campaigns. I think that has distorted the process, and I think that kind of -- Totenberg really pioneered that, but I think that kind of coverage led to an event like this. It also led to a lot of distortions, I think, in the Bork nomination, as well. I think that basically there is an inability or an unwillingness on the part of the people who cover the Supreme Court to write about the decisions as matters of law rather than as the political expressions of the various justices, and so that's sort of the overarching thing.
I think there were some other things that were done here that I don't particularly approve of. I mean, Tim Phelps was, of all the reporters, joined at the hip, as it was described to me by one of Mr. Fleming's investigators, with these interest groups, and I think that both he and Totenberg were conduits to what amounts to character assassination. I think that Nina Totenberg, for example, is on the record as saying that the key measure in her mind of Anita Hill's credibility, and when she got this affidavit on Saturday -- she's on the air on Sunday, very quickly; I realize the Thomas vote was Tuesday -- but the key aspect to her of Hill's credibility was the idea that there was no political motive here. And you -- I did it, and you could do it -- you could pick up the phone and start calling through the faculty directory at the law school in Oklahoma, and everybody who answers will tell you that Anita Hill is either an extreme liberal or a liberal or a feminist or has a flaming commitment to affirmative action. It's not that hard to find out, and so I fault both Totenberg and Phelps for not digging more thoroughly into the background of the accuser and taking the accusation at face value with no substantiation and broadcasting it. But they were doing their jobs, and I'm not going to say they shouldn't have reported the story. I'm just saying they should have taken a little more time.
LAMB: We're out of time, but one last thing. You report that Clarence Thomas would have been the nominee of the Bush administration even if Thurgood Marshall had not retired.
BROCK: That's right.
LAMB: How do you know that?
BROCK: From the people in the White House who were in charge of judicial nominations for the Supreme Court -- the White House counsel, Boyden Gray, and his office, which vetted even Supreme Court nominees -- I was told that Thomas was Bush's first choice for the Souter nomination. I was also told that if Byron White, say, had stepped down rather than Thurgood Marshall, Thomas was the next up and would have gotten it, so it was not a quota appointment.
LAMB: This is the book, "The Real Anita Hill: The Untold Story," by David Brock, and we thank you for joining us.
BROCK: Thanks for having me.
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