This Is So Good That I Had To Inflict It On You

Clearly Helen Thomas has given the world a gift by opening a window into the minds of liberal journalists, and I suspect her legacy will be a lot longer (and different) than she might ever have imagined, assuming she had time to imagine other things besides Jews going back to their “homes.”

And James Taranto is one who’s willing to help her extend that legacy. This hilarious bit of real journalism is a little long, but I assure you the payoff is worth it…

We hope you’ll indulge us as we take yet another whack at the dead horse that is Helen Thomas’s career. We were getting a little tired of the subject too, until Sally Quinn weighed in.

Quinn, along with husband Ben Bradlee, is a past recipient of the Helen Thomas Award from the American News Women’s Club. Quinn is a writer for the Washington Post; Bradlee is a former executive editor of the Washington Post. “We have . . . been honored by the award because Helen Thomas set the standard for excellence in journalism,” Quinn writes.

OK, but how did she set this standard? What stories did she break or advance? What risks did she take in pursuit of the public’s right to know? What original analytical insights did she offer?

Are these merely rhetorical questions? Perhaps. Quinn certainly doesn’t have an answer to them. She implicitly acknowledges that Thomas’s output as a columnist has been junk. This she blames not on Thomas but on her employer:

Helen will be 90 years old this summer and she clearly hasn’t been herself in recent years. Hearst Newspapers, her employer, should not have allowed her to continue in her role as columnist, representing them at the White House. It seems to me that they were exploiting her for her name and her reputation, with little regard to what was happening to her. Someone should have protected her. Someone should have asked her to resign years ago and given her a huge farewell party where she could have been honored by the entire White House press corps.

But of course Thomas was at the White House for nearly half a century. In her prime, she accomplished . . . well, what exactly? In her lead paragraph, Quinn offers this:

She was the first woman president of the White House Correspondents, and the first woman admitted to the Gridiron Club.

Unlike many women in powerful positions in those days who guarded their positions, Helen embraced not only me but every other woman entering the field. She was a huge supporter and champion of mine and so many others, always generous with her friendship and advice. She was always so professional that people didn’t see her as a “woman” journalist but simply as a journalist. She really did pave the way, by setting an example for other women who joined the profession and we were proud to know her and to be her friend.

Hmm, “people didn’t see her as a ‘woman’ journalist.” Is that why Quinn goes on about how she was the first woman this and the first woman that and a champion of young female journalists? Nothing wrong with any of that, of course, and arguably in Thomas’s day becoming a journalist was an achievement for a woman. Being a woman, however, was not an achievement for a journalist.

Quinn continues:

Helen is of Lebanese descent and her favorite hangout was a quiet little Middle Eastern restaurant on the “wrong side of town” called Mama Ayesha’s where she held court. Before long it became the hottest, chicest place in Washington, attracting all of the old Jockey Club and Sans Souci patrons who flocked there to see and be seen.I spent many a night with Helen and her best pal, Fran Lewine–who just happened to be Jewish and who was another female pioneer in journalism–

Sorry, we know it’s rude to interrupt midparagraph, but we think it’s important to amplify Sally Quinn’s point that some of Helen Thomas’s best friends are Jewish. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming:

–eating pita bread and hummus and stuffed grape leaves and drinking wine. There was always plenty of wine and laughter. Not only was Helen a great journalist but she loved her friends, loved to have a good time and nothing thrilled her more than to have heated discussions of the issues of the day. She was opinionated. She definitely held strong positions on the Middle East. But I never heard her utter a word that was unreasonable or out of line about Israel or Palestine. There was never a hint of anti-Semitism.

After this long disquisition on Thomas’s social life and her taste in restaurants, we come to Quinn’s considerably shorter and less vivid discussion of Thomas’s professional output:

She was equally outspoken and fearless in her work. She asked questions in the White House press conferences that nobody else would ask. She was respectful but clearly never intimidated by anybody, including presidents. For over half a century she was one of the most respected journalists and Washington [sic]. She was a legend. By all rights she should have gone out in a blaze of glory.

Hmm, she asked questions that “nobody else would ask.” This sounds to us like a nice way of saying that her questions were truculent and batty, which in the past decade they certainly were. Maybe in earlier years she asked serious and probing questions, but if so, an example or two would be helpful. (Maybe we’ll rename our “Questions Nobody Is Asking” feature in Thomas’s honor.)

To be fair to Thomas, Quinn is better known as a socialite than a journalist, so perhaps it is unreasonable to expect more from her than personal reminiscences of how much fun Helen was to be around. Yet perhaps Quinn’s tribute is a fitting one, for we have not seen any evidence that Thomas’s reputation as an excellent journalist was based in anything other than her standing as a longtime member of the club.

To be fair to Quinn, she does not defend Thomas’s call for ethnic cleansing of Israeli Jews–though she does employ the classic Obama dissociation dodge: “The person who called for Israel to get out of Palestine is not the Helen Thomas I knew.”

Quinn reports that the recipient of this year’s Helen Thomas Award from the American News Women’s Club is Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift. That’s got to be embarrassing for Clift–and perhaps for the American News Women’s Club, too. We emailed and phoned the ANWC to ask if it plans any changes to the event in light of the circumstances of Thomas’s “retirement.” So far, we haven’t heard back.

Nor did we ever hear from Kevin Smith, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, whose website still touts Thomas, namesake of the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement, as “a living icon of journalism.”

Helen Thomas, the living icon of journalism whose admirers cannot be reached for comment.

And true to his word…

The Helen Thomas Memorial Compilation of Questions Nobody Is Asking

 “Are Typosquatters Hijacking Your Brand?”–headline, AdAge.com, June 10

 “Why Are Wolves Sacrosanct?”–headline, National Review Online, June 9

 “Why Isn’t There a Liberal Bobby Jindal or Nikki Haley?”–headline, The Weekly Standard website, June 10

 “Will a Tourism Strike in Greece Affect You?”–headline, CNN.com, June 10

 “Would You Rather Feel Excited About the New iPhone or Bad About Oil-Covered Birds?”–headline, AdAge.com, June 9

 “The Vapors: How Can America Trust Elena Kagan if She Doesn’t Own a Cat?”–headline, Slate.com, June 10

 “Is Obama Really Kicking Ass?”–headline, PoliticsDaily.com, June 10

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The Face Of Liberalism

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Helen Thomas Retires: Says She Wants To Hate Full Time!

Now don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against hate. It's just that there are no haters like left haters, and if Americans weren't so ignorant (thanks to the left) the liberals would become the hated. If you need lessons, just follow my lead…

Anyway, I just came across a joke by Argus Hamilton that puts Helen Thomas' career in perspective… he says Thomas kept her anti-Semitism hidden for years, but it does explain why at the start of each press conference her right arm was the first to go up.

Hey-O!

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Remember when…? Me Neither

Do you recall when you used to think that journalists had insight and knowledge of facts that you didn't? OK, I admit that I never thought that in my adult life, but there was a time when I was going to school – and beyond that I thought journalists actually were the thinking class.

So what was I thinking? The truth is, I wasn't. I keep saying that I didn't become very politically minded until Clinton took office. Sure I saw the difference between Reagan and Carter, but I didn't think of it in terms of ideology – just competence. And I relied on journalists, many of whom I'd now be ashamed to say I respected, to supply me with the "facts" and perspective. To give you an idea, Sam Donaldson was one.

OK, so here's James Taranto to put all that in perspective now:

Great Moments in Editorial Writing
"Israel's blockade of Gaza is crumbling," opines the Washington Post:

But the solution is not as simple as simply ending the checks on sea and land traffic by Israel. What's needed is a new regime that addresses the legitimate needs of Palestinians in Gaza without further empowering Hamas and its patron, Iran.

Eureka! It's that simple. If only someone had thought of this before.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times editorial page offers these deep thoughts:

It's a drumbeat on the right: The Obama administration is in deliberate denial about the existence of "Islamic terrorism." . . . There is some truth in this criticism. The administration has assiduously avoided terms that recognize the distinct threat posed by those who cite Islam as a rationalization for terror. . . . So what should the proper terminology be? How about "terrorism, carried out in the name of Islam"?

Another problem solved. Now can we send a team of editorialists to the Gulf of Mexico to plug that damn hole?

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The O’Puke Factor

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Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, We’re All In Oz Now

I read the headline and thought… WHAT?

If you haven't seen it yet, what's your reaction:

Elton John sings at Limbaugh’s fourth wedding

Then I just started laughing. The master of the absurd has topped himself!

And the comments were even more fun. Here's the ones I read…

“That ought to anger his right wing fanatics! Good! Maybe he will lose some of his following. The man is insane and I can't imagine who would even consider marrying the beast. Barf.”

“All I can do is keep LAUGHING at the HYPOCRISY of this insane @!$%#! He robbed the cradle, married for the FOURTH time, hired someone gay when all he can do is BASH them!! J.C. I can't believe the hypocrisy of this guy who is the POT but calls the kettle black! What an @!$%#!!! I can't believe someone that young would marry his fat ass! And he has the nerve to talk about our President and bash everyone on the Democratic side? Is THIS the best the Repub's can come up with??? I'm still laughing…”

“Wow, all this support for Rush Limbaugh who is leading a certain portion of citizens in this country down the road to hell. Good luck to all of you and Elton John.”

They took the news well, didn't they?

I have no strong opinions about any of this, but I was amused that people who are claiming to laugh at Limbaugh were actually furious, so my opinion about that can be summed up with, "Well done, Rush!"

And what about Elton? Either he's not wedded (ha-ha) to his own beliefs or we know what he is… and his price!!!

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A Conversation With The Wife About A Case Of Mistaken Identity

Me: Did you see that headline on Drudge about Ellen hurting Idol ratings because she's gay?

She: She did?

Me: Somebody's claiming that, let me see who…

(pause)

Me: OH… it was some Christian group. See, that's the sort of thing that gives Christianity a bad name and liberals ammunition.

She:

Me: Ellen is as harmless as they come…

She: She's the most likeable gay there is.

Me:(laughing):

She: Compare her to Rosie O'Donnell or Paris Hilton…

Me: Paris Hilton is gay?

She: The one who insulted the beauty contestant.

Me: That's PEREZ Hilton.

She: I don't think that's his real name…

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