Journalist Barbara Walters Is 'Honored to Meet' Anita Hill, Her 'Heroine'
Supposedly neutral journalist Barbara Walters dropped all pretense of objectivity on Wednesday, praising guest Anita Hill as her "heroine." The View co-host gushed over how "honored" she was to meet the woman who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991. Walters allowed no tough questions of Hill, just queries about the "cost" of speaking out.
The veteran journalist introduced her guest as though she were speaking of a world leader: "I would just like to say that I'm honored to be meeting you. I watched those hearings as did so many other people. And to so many of us, you were our heroine." [MP3 audio here.]
Hill returned the compliment, extolling, "It's an honor to be here. I mean, I watch your show. You're always covering the important issues."
Speaking of the Senate hearings in which Hill accused now-Supreme Court Judge Thomas, Walters sympathized, "...You were questioned so aggressively...People criticized" and "all but tore you apart."
A tough journalist might have pointed out that Hill has since written a book, become a professor at Brandeis University and has starred in a documentary. The book deal came with a reported $1 million payday. If the cost of the hearings on her life is fair game, what about Hill's enrichment?
Walters closed by complimenting Hill's "wonderful legacy."
The ABC journalist appeared on the October 13, 1991 edition of This Week With David Brinkley to defend Hill and argue that Thomas should be defeated. Praising Hill, she promoted the raising of "a larger issue in general: the whole sexual issue, the whole woman's issue. That's the consciousness that's raised."
At no time on Wednesday did Thomas's side get any consideration. Earlier in the show, the View crew brought on Nancy Grace to talk about the 1991 hearings. Grace proceeded to convict Thomas:
NANCY GRACE: She stood up for women and minorities and made an example. And let me just remind everybody, the evidence against him. They worked together at the EEOC, equal employment. And he was accused of putting a pubic hair on her soda. He had a unique interest in a character, Long Dong Silver, and he still got sworn in!
A partial transcript of the March 19 segment is below:
SAGE STEELE: Please welcome Anita Hill to The View. What an honor. What an honor it is to have you here. I â€“ I â€“ I â€“ The documentary, I watched it last night, absolutely riveting. I think so many of us remember where we were all those years ago. In 1991, I sat on the floor of my dorm room, missed classes, skipped classes, sorry, because it was that important. It was that important to see where this went. It's been more than 20 years. You have been living a relatively quiet life since then, trying. Brandeis University currently. Why did you decide to do this documentary now?
ANITA HILL: The point that you raised about being in your dorm room watching it is in part why I'm doing the documentary now. Because an entire generation of people have gone into the workplace or are going into the workplace, don't really know the history of the issues of sexual harassment and misconduct. And I think with 22 years perspective in hindsight we can learn a lot today and figure out how we can create a better environment for the next generation.
BARBARA WALTERS: I would just like to say that I'm honored to be meeting you. I watched those hearings as did so many other people. And to so many of us, you were our heroine.
HILL: Well, thank you. Thank you. It's an honor to be here. I mean, I watch your show. You're always covering the important issues, and I am just so happy to be here.
WALTERS: Thank you. At your confirmation hearing, I mean, you were questioned so aggressively and, and, and the sexual harassment that you brought up, people criticized for you [sic] and all but tore you apart. What has it cost you going through all that?
SHERRI SHEPHERD: Looking back on this, then-Senator Joe Biden led that Senate judiciary committee that questioned you for the nine hours. And I'm looking at it. This is an all-male, all -white panel that you were in front of for nine hours. Did the full impact of what I'm seeing hit you then?
HILL: So many women said, "if you don't understand this thing that happened to us in our work lives, in the military, then you don't represent me well." And that's why so many women got involved and went into politics and ran for office and got engaged in the process.
WALTERS: That was a wonderful legacy, but I want to bring it a little more into the present. In October of 2010, Clarence Thomas' wife Ginny left you a message on your voice mail. She asked you to apologize. You refused. Did it end there? Have you ever had any discussions with either of them?
â€” Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.