The author of a best-selling book that attacked the credibility of Anita
F. Hill has disavowed its premise,
and now says that he lied in print to protect the reputation of Justice Clarence Thomas.
David Brock, the author of the book, "The Real Anita Hill" (Free Press, 1993), has also suggested, in a magazine article to be published this week, that Justice Thomas used an intermediary to provide Mr. Brock with damaging information about a woman who had come forward to provide support for Ms. Hill's accusations of harassment by Justice Thomas. Ms. Hill's accusations became the focus of Senate hearings into Justice Thomas's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1991.
Mr. Brock reported that he then used the information to force the woman to retract her statements about Justice Thomas. The article, in the August issue of Talk magazine, is excerpted from Mr. Brock's new book, "Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex Conservative" (Crown Publishers), which is scheduled to be published in September.
Describing an article he wrote for The American Spectator, a conservative magazine, in 1992, which became the basis for his book on Ms. Hill, he said he did everything he could to "ruin Hill's credibility," using "virtually every derogatory and often contradictory allegation I had collected on Hill into the vituperative mix."
"I demonized Democratic senators, their staffs, and Hill's feminist
supporters without ever interviewing any of them,"
In the last few years, Mr. Brock has disavowed his conservative activism, and criticized his own and his former colleagues' attacks on their main targets, Bill and Hillary Clinton.
In the Talk article, Mr. Brock said the incident involving the intermediary occurred in 1994 as he was preparing a review of a book, "Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas," by two Wall Street Journal reporters, Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer, for The American Spectator. Ms. Abramson is now the Washington bureau chief of The New York Times; Ms. Mayer is a Washington correspondent for The New Yorker.
He said Mark Paoletta, a Washington lawyer whom Mr. Brock identifies as a close friend of Justice Thomas's, gave Mr. Brock damaging information about Kaye Savage, another friend of Mr. Thomas's, who had told the "Strange Justice" authors that Justice Thomas had an obsessive interest in pornography. The information, which according to Mr. Brock's account, Mr. Paoletta said came from Justice Thomas, involved personal details about Ms. Savage's divorce.
Mr. Brock wrote that he used the information to intimidate her into recanting her account, threatening that he would "blacken her name, just as I had done to every other woman who had impugned Thomas's reputation."
In an interview, Mr. Paoletta, now senior Republican counsel to the
House Committee on Energy and Commerce,
denied Mr. Brock's account.
"It's not true," he said. "Justice Thomas did not ask me to pass along any derogatory information about Kaye Savage."
A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court, Kathy Arberg, said yesterday that the justice had no comment.
Reached at home in Washington last night, Ms. Savage said that Mr. Brock had tried to intimidate her but that he had not told her the source of the negative information.
"I didn't think to ask," she said.
But she said that she had shared the information about her divorce with few people and that Justice Thomas and Ms. Hill were "primarily" those to whom she had confided.
"He either got it from Clarence or he got it from Anita," Ms. Savage said, "and Anita's my friend."
Mr. Brock also said in the magazine excerpt that Mr. Paoletta told him that Justice Thomas rented pornographic videos from a store called Graffiti Video.
Mr. Brock wrote that in an effort to protect the conservative political agenda, he "consciously lied" in the review of "Strange Justice" in The American Spectator.
In the review, Mr. Brock wrote that there was no evidence that Justice Thomas had "ever rented one pornographic video, let alone was a habitual consumer of pornography."
In the excerpt, Mr. Brock writes: "When I wrote those words I knew they were false. It was the first and last time that I consciously put a lie in print."
Mr. Paoletta denied Mr. Brock's statement that Mr. Paoletta had told Mr. Brock that Justice Thomas had often rented pornographic movies from a store named Graffiti Video when Anita Hill worked for him.
In the interview yesterday, Mr. Paoletta said,
"I do not know whether Justice Thomas ever rented pornographic videos at any time."
When he was a writer for The American Spectator, Mr. Brock also wrote
an article titled "Troopergate," in which he
reported accusations from Arkansas state troopers about Bill Clinton's private life when he was governor of Arkansas.
Later, when Mr. Brock was working on a biography of Hillary Clinton, he had a change of heart about the attacks
on the Clintons and has since defended them.
Earlier this year, during the confirmation hearings for Theodore B.
Olson, President Bush's nominee for solicitor general,
Mr. Brock accused Mr. Olson of being an active part of a campaign to air damaging information about the Clintons,
an accusation that Mr. Olson, who is now solicitor general, denied.