I’m filing for slander!

In yesterday’s paper newspaper I came across a television preview for an HBO bio of revered White House correspondent Helen Thomas. The headline prepared me for some uncovered scandal: “A Story With a Few Hole: Portrait of Helen Thomas Obscures Flaws”. Oh no, me thought, What skeleton be in da closet? Then, halfway down the first page the story’s author, Tom Shales, thickens da stew. “One can’t help wondering if the film was shortened in the final edit to obscure a blemish or two on Thomas’s celebrated career — the documentary equivalent of cosmetic surgery.” Oh dang, what hidden crime is Ms. Thomas guilty of that perhaps us youngsters don’t know about? And then the lede on the second page thickens the stew further: “A Journalist’s Life, Edited for HBO”

OK, I get the angle of the story Mr. Shales — but what is her crime that is so heinous that it can’t even be mentioned on the front page?! Ahh, yes… I quote at length:

What’s disappointing about Thomas, and troubling about the film, is her stridency in criticizing Israel and defending its enemies. Other than a passing reference to Thomas’s parents as having been Syrian immigrants, the film never hints at Thomas’s anti-Israeli rhetoric. In her writings, she’s already dismissed both John McCain and Barack Obama as being friendly to Israel and hostile to the Palestinians, “so the Israelis have no worries about the November election.”

 

Especially during the current administration, her “questions” at press briefings have been more like tirades, on one occasion prompting Tony Snow, the late journalist who was then press secretary, to respond, “Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view.” This would have been a pertinent and amusing clip to include in the film. Not for nothing was Thomas recently hailed as “the epitome of journalistic integrity for over 57 years” — by the Arab American News.

 

When controversies are a large part of a person’s career, it’s reasonable to expect even an adulatory documentary at least to mention them. “Thank You, Mr. President” could easily have included both sides — Thomas attacked and Thomas defended. Even attacking the attackers would have been more honest than ignoring the matter altogether.

Her accomplishments are formidable, and that she remains active in her 80s is impressive. She’s also brave enough to chastise fellow journalists — for supporting the Iraq war in the aftermath of Sept. 11 and abetting what she considers the right-wing persecution of Bill Clinton. Thomas is an individual with strong opinions; it’s too bad that Kennedy chose to tippy-toe around some of them.

 

—-

 

(A) Don’t even get me started.

(B) “Other than a passing reference to Thomas’s parents as having been Syrian immigrants, the film never hints at Thomas’s anti-Israeli rhetoric.” What do the two halves of this sentence have to do with each other?

(C) Tony Snow? Tony Fucking Snow? And what is his zinger? “Thank you for bringing up another aspect of the debate” (?) Without even knowing what Helen said (thanks Shales) we can only hope that she did bring up another point view… Why does everyone insist on hating understanding so much??

(D) “Not for nothing was Thomas recently hailed as “the epitome of journalistic integrity for over 57 years” — by the Arab American News.” The emphasis & thrust of this comment is baldly racist.

 

(E) Thank you Tom Shales for presenting an innuendo-laced article that carried NO supporting evidence for your claim. The only quote from the woman herself is that she believes either of the presidential candidates will be a friend of Israel — a non-controversial claim that is actually the actual & explicit platform of both candidates.

 

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