Maureen Dowd's Apology to Justice Thomas
Jude and Patricia Wanniski
February 3, 1998


Memo To: Website browsers
From: Patricia Wanniski
Re: Maureen Dowd of The New York Times

[A week ago, I posted a memo on the margin to Eleanor Clift of Newsweek, Maureen Dowd of the NYT, and Nina Totenberg of NPR. It was meant to encourage them to offer a silent apology in their own minds for their feminist harassment of Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings. In her Sunday, Feb. 2 column, Ms. Dowd wrote a public "apology" to Justice Thomas, but it was not exactly what I had in mind. She drags out Anita Hill's assertions that Thomas talked dirty to her and states them as fact, where the hearings persuaded me, the Senate and the vast majority of the American people that her story was not credible. Ms. Dowd's apology is only in the form of an acknowledgement that President Clinton's record is worse. It bothered me a bit, as I have a high regard for Ms. Dowd's journalistic skills and believe she is grossly unfair in this column. My wife Patricia was bothered more than a bit, as the following attests.]

Maureen Dowd's column in Sunday's New York Times was, I think, the nadir of her career at the paper, as well as bottom-of-the-barrel as far as the Clinton coverage was concerned. Her "apology" to Clarence Thomas is as backhanded an insult as I've ever seen, and really beneath the talents of this former four-star reporter. She not only portrays Anita Hill's allegations as facts ("I mean, all you did to Anita Hill was talk dirty....your tee-heeing about a hirsute Coke can looks almost quaint."), she also calls him a liar ("when you told your whopper seven years ago...").

This is no quiet apology to Justice Thomas; it is a strident apology for Bill Clinton. In spite of her admission of his "insatiable needs," Ms. Dowd manages to call Paula Jones "trailer trash" and a "dog," paraphrasing Jim Carville and Bob Bennett, respectively, and labels Monica Lewinsky "every wife's biggest fear." She notes that "the Clintonites have been successful in persuading the public that a 21-year-old intern was able to overpower the will of the most powerful man on earth and vamp her way past Secret Service agents to force him to do her vixen bidding." While Anita Hill is a Yale victim, Paula Jones is "not of our class, darling," and Monica Lewinsky is a refugee from 90210, by inference from Ms. Dowd. At least she gets one thing right. Feminists don't care "about gender politics. They just cared about politics." The same may be said for Maureen Dowd. It will never be correct for her to offer a gentle apology to Clarence Thomas. And if Maureen Dowd's idea of an apology is to urge "if you're still keen to watch those Long Dong Silver tapes, grab a law clerk and enjoy. Get on Bill Clinton's conga line," Justice Thomas is better off without one.

[P.S. In her testimony to Senate Judiciary, Anita Hill said that when she worked for Clarence Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in his office one day he sipped from a Coke can and said something like "There seems to be a pubic hair on this Coke can." In another incident alleging sexual harassment, Hill said Thomas recommended a porno videotape he had seen, "Long Dong Silver." In her column, Maureen Dowd resurrects these allegations and infers they were factual. In the proceedings, Sen. Orrin Hatch [R-UT] presented staff research to show that there was a scene in the Exorcist in which a pubic hair on a Coke can was cited, and that there was, in the curriculum at the law school where Ms. Hill taught, a case study of sexual harassment involving a "Long Dong Silver" porno tape. At the conclusion of the proceedings, a public opinion poll indicated two-thirds of people believed Clarence Thomas, not Ms. Hill. It seems Maureen Dowd is still having a hard time understanding that she was a ringleader in the high-tech lynch mob that attempted the destruction of an innocent man, one who now sits on the Supreme Court of the United States.]