Even with the Marxist influence in President Obama’s background-and even with the reluctance to raise his voice against bloodthirsty tyrants such as Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad-even with all of that, trust Helen Thomas to find Obama too hard-line with America’s enemies and too easy-going with America’s friends.
The occasion of revisiting the antics of Ms. Thomas-the woman who epitomizes why so many Americans distrust the mainstream media-is that California Rep. Barbara Lee is seeking to bestow upon her an official honor in the name of the Congress of the United States.
Rep. Lee’s resolution-H.R. 533-is, as we go to press-before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It salutes this grand dame of the White House press corps for her “unflagging and honest coverage of every president of the United States since John F. Kennedy.”
In commenting on the proposal, Congresswoman Lee said, “Helen has been a real trailblazer for women in the field of journalism.” Indeed she has played a pivotal role in breaking the barriers in what was once an all-male preserve-along with others also worthy of mention-Martha Rountree, May Craig, Mary Lou Forbes, and Sarah McClendon are some that come to mind.
The Lee resolution praises Thomas as “an essential pillar of American democracy,” and credits her with asking “pointed questions of the Obama administration.”
While taking nothing away from Thomas’s place in the history of Washington journalism, there are those who believe any tribute to her might very well be balanced with some perspective.
Let us count the ways…
Certainly one might cite such concerns in one quote from the lady: “I’m a liberal, I was born a liberal, I’ll be one ’till I die. What else should a reporter be?” (Italics added)
Surely that is an expression of honest belief. And it sums up why much of America is driven to distraction by the mainstream media and has tuned them out. Many media folks take such disapproval from the public as a badge of honor-i.e. the great unwashed out there are “shooting the messenger.”
Anyone who has spent any time over the years in the congressional media galleries is accustomed to hearing references to the “good guys” (liberals of both parties) and “bad guys” (of course, conservatives).
It is on a par with Al Gore’s likening global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers-only applied to anyone who is conservative on most other issues or conservative across the board. That’s the way they think, and that is why Helen Thomas’s usual seat at the White House briefing has been left empty when she is absent. It’s like no one dares to occupy the throne other than the queen. Such hero worship is over the top.
It is one thing to be liberal in philosophy or voting habits. But any journalist who assumes from the get-go that a reporter can’t be anything but a liberal is not “honest” with him or herself, and is someone whose ability to provide unbiased news coverage is-at the very least- suspect
Helen Thomas worked as a by-lined reporter at UPI for 57 years, most of it at the White House. She now does a column-carried by few newspapers-for Hearst. Her liberal-loaded one-sided questions at presidential briefings made her a liberal celebrity of sorts long before she took to open punditry.
Even Obama not left enough?
In spite of-or perhaps because of-her ideological rants thinly disguised as questions at the White House, Thomas is treated by her liberal colleagues in the Washington media as a role model-apparently envious that she gets away with public speechifying that even their own liberal editors would not tolerate from them lest it discredit their purported “objectivity.”
With Obama’s ascendancy to the pinnacle of power, much of that media pretense has been cast aside, and like caged animals having been set free, mainstream scribes and blow-dried TV types have unabashedly given Obama a free pass. That love affair has become so embarrassingly obvious that Phil Bronstein, Editor-at-Large of the San Francisco Chronicle, suggested that Obama and the fawning press “should get a room.”
But Thomas is having none of it. She had been shooting questions at Obama suggesting even he was not left-wing enough for her. But judging by the uproar at the regular briefing on July 1st, there is some indication that the lapdog media have finally drawn the line.
In a testy exchange led by Thomas and CBS’s Chip Reid, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was challenged regarding staged and controlled media events, including calling reporters from favored outlets telling them they would be called upon to ask a question the next day. At one point, as Gibbs was floundering around trying to wiggle out of a tough spot, Thomas declared, “Of course, you would [say that], because you don’t have any answers.”
Whether this apparent “end of the honeymoon” sticks is something we should know in due course.
Seeking information or making political points?
However, even a media matinee idol like Obama does not deter Thomas from crusading-as usual, through “questions”-on any issue that goes to Thomas’s pro-Arab, anti-Israel views.
It thus becomes problematic when a reporter supposedly deserving official accolades for “honest coverage” would ask the President-as Thomas recently did-if Pakistan was maintaining safe havens in Afghanistan for “these so-called terrorists.”
The Taliban and al-Qaeda are “so-called” terrorists? Does that mean that 9/11 was a “so-called” terrorist attack on the United States? In World War II, did we fight Hitler’s “so-called” Nazis? That stands as Example #2 as to why Helen Thomas does not deserve recognition for “honest coverage.”
The term “so-called” terrorists is akin to Example #3 when she badgered the late Bush press secretary Tony Snow about the Lebanon-Israeli war (her sympathies were clearly with Lebanon). Snow thanked Thomas for “the Hezbollah point of view.” Hezbollah has been cited by the FBI as building sleeper cells in the United States, awaiting the day when it will be time to attack Americans. Is that “so-called” terrorism too?
See a pattern here?
Thomas’s pro-Arab “questions” have consistently favored the Middle East nations that harbor terrorists-(“so-called” because that’s what they are.) One need not endorse every move by the Israeli government to understand that there’s a reason why U.S. policies generally have been weighted against radical Islam-in the Middle East and elsewhere. Thomas’s questions clearly suggest a refusal to acknowledge that there are no Christian suicide bombers-no Hindu suicide bombers-no Buddhist suicide bombers-and by the way, no Jewish suicide bombers.
Here’s Example #4 as to why the Lee resolution might be rejected or perhaps revised:
It comes in a Thomasism tossed at then-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer in 2002: “Ari, does the President think that the Palestinians have a right to resist 35 years of brutal military occupation and suppression?” That stands as a variation on the “When did you stop beating your wife?” theme.
Trashing the troops
While our uniformed military personnel were putting their lives on the line in Iraq, Helen Thomas asked then-White House press aide Dana Perino why American troops were “targeting” civilians.
That was one of the rare instances when the Bush White House had had enough. Spokeswoman Dana Perino delivered a sharp rebuke to the “[so-called?] Dean” of the White House press corps, terming the accusation that our troops targeted the innocent as “just absurd and very offensive.”
General George Patton-about as brave and gung-ho an American soldier as ever lived-surveyed the rubble of Germany shortly after World War 2 and sadly noted the “waste” in lives and property wrought by war, but apparently it took Helen Thomas to discover decades later that in wartime-yes-innocent people do get killed (sometimes by tragic accident).
No “digging” allowed, sayeth the “dean”
Looking back on the day the White House wolf-pack suddenly sprang into action to probe the Monica Lewinsky scandal (after ignoring far worse offenses by the serial scandal-prone Clinton White House), Helen Thomas wailed that “everybody started digging…a nightmare for the Clintons, I’m sure. For reporters, it was a story you couldn’t avoid. Even though you would have liked to have.” Doesn’t asking “pointed questions” involve going after both Republican and Democrat scandals?
Birds of a feather?
That the pro-Thomas resolution would be authored by Rep. Barbara Lee is no surprise. AIM has in the past cited the Californian’s extreme-left leanings. The congresswoman is looking for 50 co-sponsors. If she gets that many, they will be on record as being on the far fringe. If the measure gets to a floor vote, we will want a front row seat for the debate.