by Michael Dolan



Reproduced here as published in 1987, save for a revision I intended but failed to make before publication and a post-facto correction of sloppy cinematic scholarship, “The Bork Tapes” has acquired a notoriety disproportionate to the number of those who actually have read it. Often cited but just as often mischaracterized, my handiwork until now has existed only in rumor, recollection, and an ever-shrinking pile of moldering newsprint.

However, every time the issue of video privacy pops up or a Supreme Court slot opens up, “The Bork Tapes” comes up, prompting expressions of interest that usually include requests for spare copies I no longer have.

So, with the Season of Roberts upon us, I have posted the article for posterity.

But first, a historical primer.

“The Bork Tapes” arose from the fact that, for all its self-inflated sense of sophistication, Washington, D.C., where I was born and where I live, remains at heart a small town.

In September 1987, as the Senate Judiciary Committee was pondering Ronald Reagan’s vituperatively-contested nomination of Robert Bork to serve on the Supreme Court, a friend and colleague whose house is a few blocks from mine was covering that institution. Seeing me the office hallway, he mentioned that his daughters had reported seeing Judge Bork, another neighborhood resident, at our local video store.


Washington City Paper front page,

Sept. 25-Oct 1, 1987




HOME beginning of article previous page next page