The Pubic Hair on the Coke Can
I remember the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991 as a pivotal point in my thinking about politics. While liberals criticized his experience or qualification, the hearing themselves became a media farce with innuendos of claims of sexually improper advances towards Anita Hill. It seemed your political persuasion dictated who you believed.
When Anita Hill was asked why she did not bring charges at the time she claimed to be unaware of her options at the time. The idea of a black woman with a law degree working for the EEOC not being ‘aware’ of her options at the time just lacked all credibility with me. When Thomas had to answer questions about a comment made decades earlier about a pubic hair on a Coke can, I asked “is this how we vet important public officials?”
Few were the questions about the law and the functions of the court, Clarence Thomas’s experience or previous decisions. It was about dredging up a long forgotten minor, for all we know totally nonexistent, personal exchange with a staffer. The pubic hair on the coke can became a vulgar symbol of the politics of personal destruction. Clarence eventually controlled the narrative when he finally called the exchange a ‘high tech lynching.’
To hear Ted Kennedy and Howard Metzenbaum make this the focus of a hearing for a Supreme Court justice was unbearable.
I was struck that this moment in history similarly impacted Andrew Breitbart as he wrote in his new book Righteous Indignation. He realized that the battlefield is not just the world of ideas as debated in the halls of Congress, but that the battle is with the media itself. The battle is over who controls the narrative.
He refers to the Democrat Media Complex (shortened throughout the book as the ‘Complex’) being the major news networks and major metro papers The New Media is the Internet, blogs, AM radio and to some extent Foxnews.
While many of us write, post and preach to the choir- Breitbart jumps into the lion’s den and seeks not just to humiliate the politicians and organizations with his exposes- he seeks to humiliate the ‘Complex’ itself by showing how they avoid covering stories that cast disfavor on their anointed leaders and party.
He brilliantly staged the roll out of the James O’Keefe ACORN story to trap the Complex in their own lies and cover-up. He offered the story to ABC first and they turned it down. He then offered it to Fox who verified the story and then ran with it. He kept releasing additional tapes until the cover-up became obvious and the Complex could no longer ignore it.
The end result was the defunding and demise of ACORN. But the rise of the New Media made the Complex the bigger casualty. The battle is not just about political ideas; it is about who controls the narrative.