A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Helen?

Helen Thomas, the grand dame of the White House Press Corps, has called it a career. It was quite a wonderful journalistic career in which she excelled as being an inquisitive, provocative reporter and sometime pain-in-the-ass to no less than ten presidents. The reason for her sudden retirement, just shy of her 90th birthday, isn’t age, but rather stupidity.

The incident unfolded at a White House celebration of Jewish heritage. She was asked by a rabbi for comments about Israel. Her response was, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.” The questioners — who thoughtfully recorded her answers for dissemination on the Internet - asked her for details on where they should go. Thomas responded, “Go home! Poland, Germany, and America and everywhere else.”

Okay, I’m not exactly feeling the love in her remarks. A more correct answer would have involved the concept of teaching tolerance for the other people living in the Mideast. Then again, it seems like no one presently living in the Mideast has heard of this concept either, so what the hell!

So now we know this self-evident truth: Helen Thomas is the only journalist in the west who never heard of the Holocaust. I’m sure it was reported in all the newspapers. Hell, there was even an entire world war fought over it. I don’t know how she could have missed it.

The whole incident is very strange. Here we have a veteran news reporter, well seasoned in the nuances of “gotcha” journalism, and she falls into a stupid trap like this. How could she do this? They were wearing yarmulkes! She must have known they weren’t representing the Arab League!

As an American, she is entitled to her own opinion, and being an American of Lebanese descent we can guess where her views of the Mideast situation lie. On the other hand, such a blunt opinion ruined her credentials as a reporter. However, as a columnist, Thomas had more leeway in expressing her personal ideas than every other daily journalist who’s main concern is with the who-what-when-where-why-and-hows of a news story.

The Obama administration was among several groups denouncing Thomas’ remarks. Although she was respected in the White House, she could still be a combative presence in the press corps. One has to wonder if someone in the administration didn’t encourage the rabbi to confront Thomas about her views. To date, no smoking gun has been found. At least no one has come forward with a White House memo entitled “Operation Discard Old Bag” yet.

Well, what’s done is done, and now it’s time for Thomas to move on. I doubt that she’ll stay retired long, even given her age. I’m sure she’ll try to remain active for some time. Maybe she’ll land a summer internship as press spokesperson for, oh, President Ahmadinejad of Iran.

Or she could be a new addition to the talking heads on Faux News! Pair her with Sarah Palin on an evening debate program. Call it the Palin/Thomas Hour or even the Thomas/Palin Hour. The order of the billing could be determined on the premiere episode when both duke it out for the top! I think the opening might go something like this:

Thomas: “You call yourself a public servant, Sarah? Eat moose meat, quitter!”

Palin: “Oh, yeah, Helen? I’ve got your sound bites right here, you betcha! Come meet your death panel!”

Oh yeah! A major bitch slap will really rack up the ratings! I like it!

(Thank you for reading. Everyone in the Mideast, please repeat after me: “tolerance, tol-er-ance, tolerance.”)


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