Helen Thomas has granted an interview to The Progressive, a left-wing magazine, flaunting her liberal views. Once known as “the first Lady of the press,” she asked questions at presidential news conferences. But she is also well-known as a liberal who despises Republicans, including President Bush. “I am a liberal,” Thomas admits to The Progressive. “I was a liberal the day I was born, and I will be until the day I die.” At the same time, she says, “There’s no such thing as a liberal media. I think we have a very conservative press. Read the columnists. They are predominantly conservative. I don’t relate to them at all. I’m looking for another liberal.”
That’s a clever ploy, shifting the attention from news reporters to columnists. But for most of her career, Thomas was supposed to be a straight news reporter for UPI. Columnists, by contrast, are open about their opinions. Equally significant, Thomas attempts to define the word “liberal” for The Progressive. “What’s a liberal?” she asks. “I care about the poor, the sick, and the maimed. I care whether we go to war for unjust causes. I care whether we shoot people who are innocent?I don’t see how you can see what’s all around you and not be liberal. You see the poor. You see the hungry. You see the suffering.”
But that’s not a realistic definition of liberal. Caring for the poor and the sick is not liberal or conservative. It’s something anybody with a heart does. On welfare issues, a liberal in political terms is someone who wants to use and expand the federal government. As Jenifer Zeigler of the Cato Institute points out, however, $9 trillion has already been spent on the federal “war on poverty” and yet the official poverty rate is going up. Both John Kerry and George Bush are “liberals” in the political sense because, as Zeigler points out, each favors more federal spending on social programs. Zeigler asks, “Isn’t it time that one of the candidates admit we cannot spend our way out of poverty?”
Liberals favor more federal spending. This kind of thinking?which is widely shared by members of the White House press corps?may help demonstrate why Bush himself is compelled to support more federal spending. If he does not does favor a larger federal role, he will be depicted as someone who is callous toward the poor and the sick. Bush’s slogan of “compassionate conservatism” was designed to help blunt such a media assault.
Helen Thomas isn’t the only prominent journalist who has come out of the liberal closet. Walter Cronkite, the longtime anchorman of the CBS Evening News, has even endorsed world government. Like Thomas, he did his own syndicated newspaper column, with his final column lamenting the number of drug abusers in prison. He said it was “cruel” to put narcotics users and traffickers in prison and he called for an end to the war on drugs.
Helen Thomas told The Progressive that she couldn’t find another liberal in the media. But she and Cronkite occupied prominent positions in the liberal media. Her Progressive interview only confirms the problem that so many people now recognize, but which she continues to try to deny.