David Brock Interview

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Read a timeline of Brock's career

July 2, 2001 -- Journalist David Brock, whose 1993 book attacked the credibility of law professor Anita Hill, now says he printed lies about Hill following her testimony against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. In an exclusive interview, NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg talks to Brock about the confession, detailed in a forthcoming book.

David Brock and Nina Totenberg at the NPR studios.
David Brock talks with NPR's Nina Totenberg at the NPR studio
Photo: Maggy Sterner © 2001 NPR Online

Brock now says that, when he was writing for the conservative magazine The American Spectator and researching his book The Real Anita Hill, he was a tool of right wing activists who fed him false information about Hill. At the time, Brock tells Totenberg, he accepted the truthfulness of the information without checking. But he since has learned he helped spread lies, he says, and is trying to set the record straight in a memoir due out next month. Brock tells Totenberg he even tried to contact Hill in 1998 to apologize, but ultimately "didn't have the guts" to talk to her.

Timeline of Brock's Career

1986: Brock comes to Washington to write for Insight, a conservative weekly magazine published by the Washington Times' parent company

October 1991: Professor Anita Hill testifies at the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas. Brock later recalls watching the hearings from his office at the Washington Times, where he was an editor; and that at first, he "believed that what (Hill) was saying was quite possibly true." About a month later, Brock gets an assignment to write about Hill for the American Spectator, a conservative journal based in Arlington, Va.

March 1992: The Spectator publishes Brock's sharply critical piece on Hill, whom he describes as "a bit nutty and a bit slutty."

April 1993: Brock's book, The Real Anita Hill: The Untold Story, is published. In an interview on C-SPAN, Brock says the book's key message is that, "when you look at the evidence, …the battle of credibility is settled hands down in favor of Clarence Thomas. Anita Hill's testimony is really shot through with false, incorrect and misleading statements."

December 1993: In the January 1994 Spectator, Brock, now on the magazine's staff, writes about what would come to be called "Troopergate": allegations by Arkansas state troops that they helped procure women for Clinton when he was Arkansas governor.

October 1996: Brock's much-awaited biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton, The Seduction of Hillary Rodham, is an unexpectedly sympathetic portrait that startles and angers many of his conservative supporters.

July 1997: In an Esquire magazine article titled "I Was A Right-Wing Hit Man," Brock writes that because of the way conservatives dispossessed him over the Hillary Clinton biography, "I…want out. David Brock the Road Warrior of the Right is dead."

November 1997: Brock is fired from the staff of the Spectator.

April 1998: In an open letter to President Clinton published in Esquire, Brock apologizes for his "Troopergate" expose, which he says was written not "in the interest of good government or serious journalism," but as part of an anti-Clinton crusade.

June 2001: The August issue of Talk magazine publishes an adaptation from Brock's forthcoming book, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. In it, Brock says he "lost his soul" by knowingly writing things about Hill that he knew were not true, and became "a witting cog in the Republican sleaze machine."