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How Grand To See Helen Thomas Still On The Job

By James Donahue

There was something profound about the first Washington press conference with our new President Barack Obama this week. The grand dame of the Washington Press Corps, Helen Thomas, was back at her old and well-earned post in the front row.

Not only was Helen present, but President Obama called on her to fire a question. He did it with a kind remark that gave her the respect she long deserved after years of being ignored by former President Bush. He noted that facing Helen was going to be his "inaugural moment."

Looking her 88 years after medical problems that recently put her out of commission, Helen stood before her president and asked about terrorists hiding out in places like Pakistan, and if our president knew for sure which Middle Eastern nations had the Atomic Bomb. The question was answered.

Thomas, a 50-year plus veteran reporter of Washington politics, has been a fiery watchdog of every president since the late John F. Kennedy was in office in 1960. She was the only female reporter to accompany President Richard M. Nixon on his historic trip to China in 1972

Thomas was the Washington bureau chief for United Press International in May, 2000, when that once great news organization was acquired by News World Communications Inc., a company controlled by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the controversial Unification Church. She said the change in ownership was “a bridge too far” and resigned her job.

That did not stop Thomas, however. She later went to work as a Washington columnist for the Hearst Newspapers, wrote books and did some interesting free lance writing. This writer felt especially honored when a political piece we submitted appeared with something Thomas wrote on the same blog page and on the same day.

That is because we share Ms. Thomas’s strong views on the failure of American journalists to do the job we have always been committed to do. That is to boldly serve as watchdogs of government.

Her recent book Watchdogs of Democracy nails it. She wrote that there has been a growing and alarming reluctance among reporters to question the government and probe for truth. The Washington news crew has been prone to sit back and post the stories they have been told to print, no questions asked. She calls them the President’s “lapdogs.”

Consequently, we have seen a growing pattern of corruption and misuse of power in Washington, which was blatantly demonstrated by President George W. Bush and his cohorts. America will be paying the price for these failures for a very long time..

Because Thomas was the one reporter in the press corps that never failed to ask the hard question, President Bush never allowed her to confront him. Her very presence in the room must have troubled him, but she was always on the job.

We offer this piece as our personal tribute to one of the finest journalists still working in Washington.

We also offer it to counter the spiteful words uttered the day after the Obama press conference by blubbering loud-mouth Bill O’Reilly at Fox News. This clown, who has never, and will never understand the contributions this woman has made for America, dared to make fun of Thomas, calling her the “wicked witch of the east.”

O’Reilly owes Ms. Thomas a public apology for attacking real journalistic royalty as he did. He, like so many of the Republican members of both the House and Congress in the past weeks, have shown their true color. That color is black. There is no light in any of them..