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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Helen Thomas Says Media 'Played Dead' In Run-Up To Iraq War

Shame on you Mr President, you just threw away a true journalist in every sense of the word.
You have just deminished yourself around the world, in your peace efforts.
Murder on the High Seas is not "offensive and reprehensible."

I think certainly a must read, what knowledge to just throw away!!!!!!

That’s the reason we’re so easily led down the garden path—nobody’s asking “why?” The question “why?” should always be there. What is the reason this other government or these people would do this to us? But I had the impression that throughout the whole country, truth took a holiday. There’s been very little search for truth, except for a few people who have spoken out.

This interview with Helen Thomas was conducted in March. We were holding it for an upcoming issue of Vice magazine, but in light of what’s going on with her now, we’ve decided to run it online today.

“Uh, wait, what’s going on with her now,” you say. Oh, you live in a cave. OK then. Helen Thomas just made some comments about Israel that Israelis, President Obama, and a lot of other people vehemently didn’t like. Not to put too fine a point on it, she pretty much said that Jews need to “get the hell out of Palestine” and go home to “Poland, Germany and America.” A tad indelicate, yes. But not surprising given her reputation for being headstrong and outspoken. And has Helen Thomas ever made her position on Israel and its actions a secret? Nope. Besides, if we were 89 years old and had spent the last five decades watching a steady flow of spin and doubletalk issuing forth from the mouths of countless men (and a select few women) standing behind a podium with the White House seal on it, we might be getting a little grumpy by now too.

“But hold on a minute,” you say. “Who’s Helen Thomas again?” Really, kid? Lebanese-American member of the White House Press Corps since 1960. Pioneering female journalist. The little old lady who sits in the front row at Presidential press conferences and asks the questions that the other reporters are too scared to ask. A journalist who truly challenges politicians, who wants them to be able to explain and justify their decisions and positions, whose most valued question is ‘why.’ Now she has been hounded into quitting the job that was her life. Her agent for speaking engagements has summarily dropped her. She is being vilified by many and lauded by others but no matter what, we believe that she is owed a huge debt of respect and gratitude for the work she’s done in the name of true democracy. We fear that the White House Press Corps has lost its conscience in losing Helen Thomas. Whether anyone has the balls to carry on what she has started remains to be seen.
PS: Yes, she does discuss Israel in this interview, if you’re curious about whether there’s a timely money shot to sink your teeth into. But there’s a lot more going on here. Don’t let Helen Thomas’s views on Israel alone define her for you.

Vice: When I watched you at press conferences during the George W. Bush years, you seemed pretty disgusted with your fellow journalists.Helen Thomas: In the run-up to the Iraq War, no one asked for proof of weapons of mass destruction. It was very, very clear that President Bush wanted to go to war at any cost. And he would not go back to the UN and allow them three more months to look and see if it was really true. We went to war on lies. I think 9-11 was definitely used to terrorize the people away from taking any stand against the government, because they felt it was a real crisis and I guess they—halfway at least—believed the government. Using terrorists is a very effective propaganda weapon.

Is it just me or did the mainstream press seem particularly flabby after 9-11?They were afraid of not being considered real patriots, and I’m sure the big communications corporations got orders from on high. So they played ball.
In your decades at the White House have you witnessed this kind of complacency before?Well, the Watergate scandal was the turning point in the White House in modern times. We took all the [Nixon administration’s] denials, and when they turned out to be absolutely wrong, when it turned out to be disinformation, it made reporters much more wary in that brief interval that followed. But of course 9-11 made everyone into a prime citizen again, and afraid to ask. The Pentagon was also very effective in propagandizing, as was the State Department, as was the White House. So, again, I think that journalists became afraid to be called unpatriotic if they didn’t support a war, even one that was obviously not true.
You were surprised by this?LinkHere

By Robert Scheer
The media tirade against Helen Thomas is as illogical as it is hysterical. The few sentences uttered by her were, as she quickly acknowledged, wrong—deeply so, I would add. But they cannot justify the road-rage destruction of the dean of the Washington press corps. Suddenly this heroic woman who broke so many gender barriers and dared to challenge presidential arrogance was reduced to nothing more than the stereotypical anti-Israel Arab that it is so fashionable to hate.
“Thomas, of Lebanese ancestry and almost 90, has never been shy about her anti-Israel views,” writes Richard Cohen in The Washington Post, in a non sequitur reference to a reporter born in Winchester, Ky., in 1920 when few—Jews included—supported a Jewish state in Palestine and whose parents were Christians. Obviously Cohen, who attacks Thomas for “revealing how very little she knew” about the history of Israel, is unaware that Lebanese Christians have been the staunchest allies of the Jewish state. Indeed, they provided the shock troops who, under Israeli cover, massacred the unarmed inhabitants of Palestinian refugee camps. To attribute Thomas’ views on Israel to her Lebanese parents is no less offensive than it would be to suggest that a Jewish reporter cannot be objective because, as in my case, his mother escaped anti-Semitism in Russia.
Thomas’ fall from grace as a media icon began with her daring to criticize the abysmal coverage of the buildup to the Iraq war. How ironic that her opposition to the U.S. invasion is offered as an example of hostility to Israel when that war did so much to increase the power of Iran, Israel’s most significant enemy in the region. After all, Israel claims that the presumed military threat from Gaza is fueled by Iran, which enjoys much support in Shiite-led Iraq—previously governed by Tehran’s archenemy Saddam Hussein.
As someone who has long supported a two-state solution for the historically disputed land of Palestine, I have no trouble condemning Thomas’ ill-considered remarks that Israeli Jews should go back to the lands from where they came. I am opposed to denying legitimacy to desperate immigrants seeking a better life anywhere, be they in Arizona or the Middle East. What I don’t understand is why this basic respect for human rights doesn’t apply to the people who call themselves Palestinian and who are illegal immigrants not as a matter of birth but only in the political calculus of those who find their indigenous presence at best an inconvenience and at worst an insolvable threat. Why is it morally acceptable to deny Palestinians the right to full citizenship in their birthplace and instead insist, as Israel’s leaders often have, that they should be content to live under the flag of nations like Egypt, Syria and Jordan that have long oppressed them? LinkHere

Will Fox News Get Helen Thomas's Front-Row Seat?

Why do you think this is happening now more than ever before?I think it’s the whole business of communications, the stranglehold of the ultra-right on propaganda. It’s scaring people. Three or four hours every afternoon they have these very ultra-right people on the air, who I think are using the government and using the American people, betraying them and destroying our whole sense of honesty.


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