Yet another high-publicity autobiography is out, and once again the media are giving short shrift to religious aspects in the author's life. The media's coverage of My Grandfather's Son by Clarence Thomas has lurched to the apparently small section of the book dealing with his confirmation hearings and Anita Hill, but as the news reports show, there is little fresh material there. Rather than addressing new content in the book, the media are rehashing the Anita Hill story.
The tricky thing with book releases is that while a publication's book section may given ample space to the book, the news department is under no requirement to give the book any attention -- unless there is new material in the book. So what is the news here?
The Washington Post's news story does the best job hinting at the religious aspects raised in the book, but hints is all we're given:
Thomas lovingly describes the iron-willed grandfather who raised him after his own father abandoned him as a toddler, praises the Roman Catholic Church for providing him with an education but criticizes it for not being as "adamant about ending racism then as it is about ending abortion now," and gives a detailed description of the confirmation hearings that electrified the nation in 1991 and the sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill that he said destroyed his reputation.
Later on there is this tantalizing bit regarding Anita Hill and how Thomas viewed her religious faith:
He writes that Hill did a "mediocre" job at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where he was chairman, and misrepresented herself at the time of the hearings as a "devoutly religious Reagan-administration employee." "In fact, she was a left-winger who'd never expressed any religious sentiments" and had a job in the administration "because I'd given it to her."
If you don't think religious issues are news then you should stop reading this blog. Assuming that you are still with us, what about the revelations of Thomas's religious faith is not news? The Post mentions the bit about how he had fleeting thoughts of suicide in the early 1980s, but that's it. Any chance there were some words on how his religious faith played into that incident?
I guess we'll just have to wait for a reporter who takes religion seriously and sees its involvement in a person's life as something significant and worthy of reporting.