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Tag: Helen Thomas

June
9th

More for Helen Thomas groupies to explain away

Some more to chew on for diehard Helen Thomas fans. I particularly like the “Thank God for Hezbollah” quote.

Let’s not forget her question at President Obama’s first press conference about whether “so-called terrorists” – i.e., al-Qaida and the Taliban – were being given sanctuary by Pakistan. I won’t bother making the argument that there’s nothing “so-called” about their terrorism.

June
8th

Helen Thomas finally gets her due

Helen Thomas, a thoroughly nasty piece of work, would have done well to retire before she got so sloppy at concealing her anti-Semitic views. Her recent suggestion that Israel’s Jews ought to “go home” to Germany and Poland, of all places, suggests that she ought to “go home” to Tehran or some other snakepit of Jew-hatred.

Finally, she’s gone.

The following article, which appeared in The New Republic in August 2006, pretty much sums up the kind of journalist she’d become toward the end of her career.

A HACK RISES.

by Jonathan Chait

Last April, when comedian Stephen Colbert appeared before the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner and memorably lacerated the assembled reporters for having spent much of the last five years as lazy courtiers for the Bush administration, he exempted one person from his barbs: Helen Thomas, the 85-year-old columnist for Hearst Newspapers. Indeed, Colbert’s performance ended with a videotaped segment portraying him as the White House press secretary, relentlessly pursued by a dogged Thomas, who drove him into a panic with her insistent demands that he explain why the country went to war with Iraq.

What had begun as an indictment of press capitulation ended as a tribute to the will and integrity of journalism’s grand old dame. As the video ended, Colbert extended his arm toward its heroine, who was sitting at the head table near President Bush, and declared, to thunderous applause, “Helen Thomas, ladies and gentlemen.”

Once the epitome of a wire-service stenographer, Thomas has, over the past several years, emerged as the liberal journalistic icon of the Bush era. Her fame derives in part from customs that have arisen thanks to her longevity: For press briefings, she has a permanent seat in the front row and is alone in having her own name engraved on it. (Her colleagues’ chairs all bear the names of their respective news outlets.) For years, she has, as a courtesy, been allowed to ask the first question. Of late, she has added to her image as doyenne of a bygone age by asking exceptionally combative questions of Bush and his interlocutors. “My point,” she asked with typical bluntness in the run-up to the Iraq war, “is, why is the president going through this charade of diplomacy when he obviously plans to go to war?”

This unique combination of staying power and anti-Bush obstreperousness has made Thomas a hero to the left. Her advanced age, diminutive proportions, gnarled features, and scraggly voice suggest a Yoda-like mien, adding to her aura of wisdom and integrity. “Aged, frumpy, a bit grumpy, Thomas is a throwback in this telegenic age, an unglamorous reminder of a more civic era,” wrote James Wolcott in Vanity Fair. Novelist Dermot McEvoy seconded the “throwback” idea, declaring her “a throwback to the time when Edward R. Murrow, I.F. Stone, and Jack Anderson were feared as purveyors of truth by the powers that be.”
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