Helen Thomas’s ignoble departure

Over the years, Helen Thomas went from tough adversarial questioner of the powerful to hateful bigot. Too bad. From her front-row perch at White House press briefings, for many years she did the right thing by asking tough questions about U.S. justifications for wars, and to her credit she did not allow herself to get co-opted into the establishment mentality like so many Washington journalists. But with the passage of time she became less of a questioning journalist and more of a columnist with an agenda, and now she has been forced out because of disgusting anti-Semitic comments.

It’s too bad that she has discredited herself this way at the end. There was a time when her aggressive questioning was appropriate, especially as a challenger to administration spokespersons who tried to play down the horrors of war.

As CBS’s veteran White House correspondent Mark Knoller writes:

During a heated exchange on November 30, 2007, White House press secretary Dana Perino got decidedly fed up with Thomas when one of her questions suggested the president was oblivious to the deaths of innocent people in Iraq.

“Helen, I find it really unfortunate that you use your front row position, bestowed upon you by your colleagues, to make such statements,” scolded Perino.

She told Thomas that “to suggest that we, the United States, are killing innocent people is just absurd and very offensive.”

But Thomas, then 86-years old, didn’t back down:

THOMAS: Do you know how many we have (killed) since the start of this war?

MS. PERINO: How many — we are going after the enemy, Helen. To the extent that any innocent Iraqis have been killed, we have expressed regret for it.

THOMAS: Oh, regret? It doesn’t bring back a life.

MS. PERINO: Helen, we are in a war zone, and our military works extremely hard to make sure that everyone has the opportunity for liberty and freedom and democracy, and that is exactly what they are doing.

But for all the credit she deserves for earlier being properly adversarial toward the flacks for war policies, her hurtful anti-Semitic comments at the end were inexcusable. An ignoble departure.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Helen Thomas’s ignoble departure

  1. Kathleen

    “because of disgusting anti-Semitic comments.”

    That is totally inaccurate. While her comment that Jews in Palestine should go back to Germany and Poland was way out of line.

    “Over the years, Helen Thomas went from tough adversarial questioner of the powerful to hateful bigot.”

    Show me one other time where Helen Thomas has made such an appropriate comment

    Your time would be better spent digging into why we are not hearing anything in our MSM about Israeli soldiers blowing bullets in the back of the heads of the Turkish American at close range. Your time would be better spent digging into why the Israeli Army put bullets in the heads of the other humanitarian activist at close range and why we never hear that mentioned in the MSM.

    For Helen to be taken out due to this one terribly insensitive comment demonstrates once again the power of the I lobby. Christ All mighty Ari Fleisher (one of the thugs who outed Plame) started the chant for Helen to go. What a way to eliminate the only person in the White House Press Corp who ask direct and tough questions about the middle east. Why is it that we are not hearing anyone in the White House call the Israeli raid on that Mavi Marmara “reprehensible” or any of the harsh words that have been directed towards Helen Thomas choice of words.

    For you to pile on with the I lobbies hammering of Helen Thomas is telling. And the story it tells about you is pathetic

    When will you write about those activist on the Mari Mavara being shot in the back of their heads at close range? When will you focus on Netanyahu , Micheal Oren and others blaming the activist for the Israeli government for deciding to raid that ship at night heavily armed?

    When will you focus on that Barak and Bibi were part of the plan to use aggressive violent means instead of choosing to approach that potentially volatile situation via non violent means?

    No you choose to pile on Helen Thomas. Sad

  2. Allison

    Kathleen, if Helen Thomas had made a remark that African Americans should “get the HELL out of America” and go back to where they belong in Africa, would you support that statement as well? Do you oppose Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration enforcement law, or is it okay to tell the “Mexicans to get the hell out of America and go back to Mexico?” If she had said that, she would have been crucified (NOT martyred) by the “MSM”.

    For you to pile on this self-righteous, narrow-minded bs in defense of a hateful racial slur is “telling.” And the story it tells about you is pathetic.

    • Susan

      Allison:
      a few ‘minor’ differences: African Americans were brought here against their will. They were not told to go into a country already inhabited and to claim it as their own. The Palestinian people were kicked out of their country because it was politically expedient. I think Helen Thomas was railroaded. I also think the Arizona law is ill advised and problematic. I also think that Israel has gotten away with murder (the attack on the USS Liberty) and I think they need to held accountable for their actions.
      There was nothing racial in Helen’s remarks. She didn’t call them ‘filthy Jews’ or other worse names. She voiced an unpopular opinion.

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