A lot of shady business about Clarence Thomas has emerged in the last handful of months. What’s up with his friendship with a billionaire who collects Nazi memorabilia? What about that shady loan he received from a health care exec to pay for his luxury RV? And what’s a Supreme Court justice doing attending private dinners for the right-leaning Koch brothers? While we’re at it, what is esteemed documentarian Ken Burns doing posing with Thomas at one of those soirees?
Ken Burns’ involvement explains why this Clarence Thomas scandal is so long and has so many installments pic.twitter.com/MwOt05Rphr
— Matt Goldich (@MattGoldich) September 22, 2023
Last week, a pic of the guy behind The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, The Vietnam War, and many others circulated in which he’s seen smiling between Thomas and David Koch, both boogeymen to the left. The uproar was such that Burns had to step in with an explanation.
“Around ten years ago, Ken was stopped and asked to take a photograph with a Supreme Court Justice and David Koch, who was a supporter of public television and would later provide some funding for his film, The Vietnam War,” a spokesperson for Burns told The Hollywood Reporter. “So he took the photo, as he has done with many, many others. Other than the taking of that photograph and innocuous pleasantries, that’s the extent of his contact with Justice Thomas.”
So it was allegedly just a photo op. It may still seem strange that Burns is hanging with the Koch brothers, though their names are on progressive things as well, including an epic doc that explores both the American and Vietnamese side of the Vietnam War.
The photo of Burns, Thomas, and Koch emerged in a ProPublica piece about Thomas attending two functions for the libertarian billionaire brothers. Burns’ name was not mentioned in the piece. Still, for future reference it might not be a great idea for thoughtful documentarians to be posing for pics with people so far to the right that students successfully petition to get him booted from teaching a class.