Early last month Amazon deleted a documentary film about Justice Clarence Thomas from its popular streaming service. Titled “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” and culled from more than 30 hours of interviews with its subject, the film recounts Justice Thomas’s rise from poverty in segregated Georgia to Yale Law School and, eventually, to the Supreme Court. Along the way, viewers learn about the justice’s views on race, religion, politics and the role of the judiciary.
The documentary began airing on PBS in May 2020 and streaming on Amazon in October. But it was taken down by Amazon on Feb. 8, according to the director, Michael Pack, and he has never been told why. “Our distributor, who’s the one who made the deal with Amazon, has repeatedly asked them for explanations but they haven’t given any,” Mr. Pack told me by phone this week. “They have the right to pull anything from their site, and they don’t have to give an explanation. So it’s not a contract violation. But many people have complained, and they haven’t put it back up.”
If this episode sounds familiar, it’s because Amazon pulled a similar stunt last fall. Eli Steele’s “What Killed Michael Brown ?”—a critique of liberal social policies that was written and narrated by his father, the race scholar Shelby Steele —was slated to stream on Amazon in October, then held up for reasons the company never fully explained. Amazon eventually relented and made the film available, but only after these pages weighed in and made a fuss.