On Friday, The New York Times published excerpts from a phone interview with Anita Hill in which she discussed Joe Biden’s recent apology call, the ways he and the system failed her in 1991, and parallels between the Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh hearings.
Early in the interview, Hill discusses contradictions between what Biden told her would happen during the hearing versus what actually happened:
“One of the things he did was to go over what supposedly would be the process and that was that I would testify first in the morning and then that Judge [Clarence] Thomas would have a chance to respond. As you know, that didn’t happen that way, and that was merely the first disappointment that I think I had — was that the process got swept up in [inaudible]. Thomas was able to offer a rebuttal before I had ever said a word, and there was an attempt by the Republicans to introduce my statement before I had a chance to present it.”
She also explained that witnesses ready to corroborate her story were not allowed to come forward, and at the hearing, a doctor who had never met her was permitted to diagnose her with “erotomania.” Hill stops short of saying that Biden lied to her but maintains that he did mislead her in a phone call before the hearing:
I leave you to say whether he lied or not. What he told me turned out not to be the case. If you want to call that lying, that’s fine. I think, at the very least, I would say it was misleading.
In the interview, Hill says that the lack of transparency and mismanagement of her hearing “set the stage for what happened in 2018,” referring to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings during which Christine Blasey Ford testified Kavanaugh assaulted her as a teenager. Ford was subsequently forced from her home amid a barrage of death threats while Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice.
Biden’s passive apology for the fact that Hill “got treated” badly has been labeled by some as a non-apology. On Friday, April 26, Biden appeared on The View, where he continued to not apologize, insisting, “I don’t think I treated her badly.”
But in the interview, Hill says she cares less about a personal apology and more about correcting a system that allows the mistakes of 1991 to play out all over again in 2018:
Again, I keep saying this. The focus on an apology to me is one thing. But there needs to be an apology to the other witnesses, and there needs to be an apology to the American public, because we know now how deeply disappointed women all over the country were about what they saw — and not just women. There are women and men now who are just — really have lost confidence in our government to respond to the problem of gender violence...
I won’t deny that my sense of the conversation is also influenced by the whole series of events that have happened in the last few weeks since we talked. But I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, “I’m sorry for what happened to you.” I will be satisfied when I know that there is real change and real accountability and real purpose to correct the issues that are still there.