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Website attempts to debunk Anita Hill docudrama 'Confirmation'

HBO's much talked about docudrama Confirmation debuts April 16. The movie stars actress Kerry Washington as Anita Hill in 1991 and though it is set in Washington, D.C.,  it was filmed right here in Atlanta. 

In case you've forgotten or didn't live through that history, here's a refresher.

Hill would become famous for her televised testimony that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had subjected her to sexual harassment including conversations about pubic hair on Coke cans and his "Long Dong Silver" endowment.  In his public response, Thomas referred to the proceedings as "a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks."

Related: Kerry Washington as Anita Hill: What would “Scandal’s” Olivia Pope think?

As we know, Thomas, who had been nominated by Republican President George H.W. Bush, was confirmed in Oct. 1991 with the closest Supreme Court confirmation vote in history.

This week, Mark Paoletta, a lawyer for the White House Counsel's office at the time who helped Justice Thomas through the hearings, launched a website to rebut HBO's retelling of events. Confirmation, he says, is an example of the left using Hollywood to rewrite history after the hearings showed Hill to be inconsistent and unreliable.

Paoletta says his website, corrects "mischaracterizations and falsehoods"in the movie. He includes original source files from the congressional hearings (with sections highlighted) and videos that serve to defend Thomas and provide a different view from the one presented by HBO's film.

“HBO made this movie in an election year to support Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, which loves to claim that a mythical ‘war on women’ is underway by Republicans,” said Paoletta in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter . Paoletta acknowledged that he had not seen the film, but had read a script in July. HBO denied the claims.

In addition, the website will offer a minute-by-minute fact checking of the movie (presumably as it airs on Saturday).

Just for the sake of context, Paoletta and Thomas are good friends. Thomas mentioned Paoletta in his 2007 memoir, "My Grandfather's Son," and Paoletta has referred to Thomas as "a hero to me."

According to a 2013 story in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette , when Paoletta was diagnosed with cancer, Justice Thomas called or visited Paoletta every single day.

Paoletta isn't the only one charging HBO with bias. A number of former politicos and some current pundits have said the timing of the film and its presentation of fiction as fact is designed to influence millennials who didn't live through the events themselves and buttress Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

We can't however, lay all the blame on HBO for dragging old events into the present.

It was actually Virginia Thomas, Justice Thomas' wife, who first revived this drama in 2010, when she left a voicemail for Hill asking her to apologize for the allegations she made almost 20 years before. Hill declined to apologize, the FBI was called and Virginia Thomas said she meant no offense.

Five years later, HBO decided to make a movie.

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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.