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Ken Burns recently addressed a photo that has been circulating, depicting the renowned documentary filmmaker alongside Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and billionaire David Koch. While David Koch had provided funding for one of Burns’ documentaries, Ken Burns wanted to clarify that he has no substantial connections or relationship with Justice Thomas.
Approximately a decade ago, Ken Burns was approached and asked to take a photograph with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and David Koch, a supporter of public television who later contributed funding for Burns’ documentary, “The Vietnam War.” Burns, known for his extensive documentary work, often takes photos with various individuals. Apart from this photograph and casual pleasantries, there has been no significant interaction between Ken Burns and Justice Thomas, as stated by a spokesperson for Burns.
“The Vietnam War” is a monumental 10-part, 18-hour PBS documentary that provides a comprehensive account of the conflict, featuring firsthand testimonies from witnesses and participants on both sides.
The photo in question gained attention after a ProPublica article shed light on the financial ties between Justice Thomas and David Koch, along with details about their fundraising activities. The article revealed that Justice Thomas had attended two of Koch’s donor events, a situation that raised concerns given the potential influence on cases before the Supreme Court.
Although Ken Burns was not the focus of the article, the photo was prominently featured and was reportedly taken during an all-men’s retreat at the Bohemian Grove in California.
Ken Burns’ clarification underscores the distinction between a casual photograph and any substantive connection between himself and Justice Clarence Thomas.