DC Trawler

Helen Thomas, free speech martyr

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Wow, everybody’s going off on Helen Thomas, huh? All she said was that those Jewy-come-latelies in Israel should go back where they came from, back to Poland and Germany and “everywhere else.” Did she specifically say they should be sent there packed into boxcars? No. Did she specifically say Hitler had some good ideas? No. So what’s the big deal?

Katrina Vanden Heuvel asks: “Isn’t there some room for Helen Thomas?” (Yes, Katrina, I believe they call it Lebensraum.)

Thomas opened many doors for women journalists; she was the first woman officer of the National Press Club after it opened its doors to women members, the first woman member and president of the White House Correspondents Association and the first woman member of the Gridiron club. In 1998, Thomas was honored by President Clinton as the first recipient of the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award…

Her remarks were offensive, but considering her journalistic moxie and courage over many decades — in sharp contrast to the despicable deeds committed by so many littering the Washington political scene — isn’t there room for someone who made a mistake, apologized for it and wants to continue speaking truth to power and asking tough questions?

As Helen Thomas obviously understood but Vanden Heuvel doesn’t seem to grasp, nobody has an intrinsic right to sit in the White House briefing room. Even if she’s been there since the Polk administration. There’s plenty of room outside it. And she left voluntarily, mind you. Sure, she jumped before she was pushed, but hey, she had the option of going out with some modicum of dignity.

Vanden Heuvel doesn’t specify what those “despicable deeds” are, by the way. What, like being a Republican?

Meanwhile, Joe Scarborough thinks we should go easy on old Helen because she’s hella old:

My parents say things and I’m like, you know what? Close the door and do not say that. Love them, they are great, but as- I just think that you cut them slack. I think you cut her slack at 89. Somebody goes and talks to her and says, “Helen, you know what? Smile in the front row and ask a question every once in a while…”

Her career shouldn’t be defined at what she said at 89.

Even if it’s just a quicker, blunter summary of what she said at 79. And 69. And 59. And…

Over at HuffPo, somebody named Paul Jay says:

We all know what’s going on here. The hyper-pro-Israel lobby, in both parties, hasn’t much liked the fact that Helen Thomas dares to speak up and question that most sacred of topics, and right from the front row of the White House Press Gallery. Heck, she had the gall to ask President Obama about Israel’s “secret” nuclear weapons. She even asked the current White House spokesman why the US had not condemned the Israeli attacks on the aid flotilla. No wonder they want her the hell out.

Do I think all Jews (that came after 1948) should get out of Palestine? Well, no more or less than Europeans should get out of North America, or the Portuguese should get out of Brazil, or the British should get the hell out of Australia. There does come a point where such things are simply not possible.

What’s German for “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”?

While Dana Milbank doesn’t defend Thomas’s comments, he does note:

Yet the White House press corps will be diminished without Helen front and center, and not only because she was in that job before the current president was born. She brought a ferocity to her questioning that has eluded too many in subsequent generations. At a time when others were getting cozy with sources, her crabby, unrelenting hostility was refreshing.

Yeah, she brought the whole “crazy bag lady who’s convinced you stole one of the wheels off her shopping cart” experience to the White House. How come they never let her bring her cats?

A lot of lefties are also asking why Helen Thomas is out of a job today but Pat Buchanan is still working. Personally, I wouldn’t want Pat Buchanan in the White House briefing room either. Where is he now, MSNBC? So he might as well be unemployed.

P.S. In the new footage from the now-infamous interview, Helen Thomas says the best thing about a career in journalism is that you never stop learning. Yes, I’m sure she’s found the past few days instructive.

Jim Treacher