Former Vice President Joe Biden can’t seem to figure out how to directly apologize to Anita Hill for his handling of her sexual harassment claims against now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — despite multiple opportunities since the Me Too movement and the launch of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign sparked renewed scrutiny of the 1991 hearing.
Biden has followed a pattern: He often frames his comments in passive voice (“I’m sorry she was treated the way she was treated”) or otherwise omits “his role in what happened,” as Hill herself has pointed out.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time of the 1991 hearing, Biden decided not to allow testimony from several women who could have corroborated Hill’s allegations.
Hill has equated Biden’s botched apologies to “I’m sorry if you were offended.”
“I cannot be satisfied by simply saying I’m sorry for what happened to you,” she said in a New York Times interview published the day Biden announced his 2020 bid. “I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose.”
Here is a running list of the times Biden has attempted and failed to apologize to Hill.
November 2017: “I am so sorry that she had to go through what she went through.”
December 2017:“I wish I had been able to do more for Anita Hill.”
September 2018: “I am sorry I couldn’t have stopped the kind of attacks that came to you.”
March 2019: “I regret that I couldn’t get her the type of hearing she deserved. I wish I could have done something.”
April 2019:“I’m sorry she was treated the way she was treated. I wish we could have figured out a better way to get this thing done ... I don’t think I treated her badly.”
This post will probably be updated.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.