Bob looks past Helen Thomas' undignified exit from journalism to her many decades as the thorn in the side of the president.
NPR would never go so far to apologize for a nasty remark by a pundit who did not hew to politically-correct attitudes, as Thomas did.
She is a columnist—or was until last week— for Hearst, and has been since UPI was purchased by the Moonies a number of years ago.
Helen Thomas has as much right as anyone else to express herself.
If she had said this in Lebanon, Gaza, UEA, UAE, Somalia, Russia, parts of Germany, Austria, Indonesia, etc. she'd be treated as a hero.
As a journalist, of course, her rant was as nauseating. But there is a hero here -- it's the internet, for so quickly and transparently conveying a horrid outburst by a powerful journalist to a tourist rabbi and letting it resonate fully.
If I were Helen Thomas I would take that pent up passion and reboot as a columnist. If she took this honest route, expressing herself openly, I would be quite interested in reading her prickly outbursts...Of course, I'd rather she just tour high school gyms as a wrestling terror with Ed Koch opposing.
Good on you OTM. Your show is a beacon of moral standards for the media. I applaud you for standing in the face of such a vitriolic response and suggesting that Helen's style, while clumsy in this instance, is rooted in asking hard purposeful questions which have lent us so much— clearly too many have not learned from watching and listening. Thank you!
OTM Editors note: I sent this to an old pal, big HT fan, and like me an NPR/OTM listener. I really did not want to advance this particular story, but figured somebody would have made this point by now. I worked with (mostly watched) Helen in D.C. while UPI National Reporter/Editor, then chatted up a storm on UPI Roundtable- with the late legend Jack Anderson - 11 years as Midwest Bureau Chief UPI Radio Network, Chicago. Most of us jumped ship or were pushed overboard when the Rev Moon took over UPI. Inbox X ReplyJay Sapir to bareboneshow details Jun 7 (5 days ago)My heart sank when I saw this Helen thing go viral. Anyone who knowsher, knows she would say the same of any brutal occupying power. If this story was inverted she would tell the highest Mullah;"tell the Arabs to get the hell out of Jerusalem." Somewhere I have her stating this on one of a few dozen hour longcassettes. Don't intend-nor does she need- this reporter to go to batfor her.
bad piece on helen thomas. i sure dont agree with her comments but it would have been nice if OTM had addressed whether or not she should have been forced to "retire" because of them...and call attention to similar remarks casually made by the other side. keep up the double standards npr!
I am dismayed by your coverage of Helen Thomas' now well-covered statement about Israel....why cannot you admit that for her, and for many of us, she was speaking her truth. Her truth she has developed, as you rightly noted, her long career of speaking truth even when that conflicts with others, even those with power--including over the media.
I was horrified that you acted as an apologist for the hateful comments of Helen Thomas telling Jews to move back to their "homelands" of Poland and Germany. Welcoming countries that slaughtered 6,000,000 or more Jews a little over 60 years ago. Where during the pogroms in Russia, Poland, in fact all of Eastern Europe destroyed villages, torched houses and synagogues, and killed Jews every spring when incited to hate during Easter services. There have been Jews living in Israel continuously throughout history even when the majority were forced out into the Diaspora. It was Jews who built Second Temple (as well as the first) of which only the Western Wall known also as the Wailing Wall remains. Jerusalem is repeatedly in the Holy Scriptures but not once in the Koran. It was the Jews who took this barren land of desert as it was in 1948 and made it bloom with orchards and sweet fields that grow the vegetables eaten in the land. And it is for this woman, Helen Thomas who you heap praise upon. You call it crankiness or slip of the tongue for speaking her true feelings of hatred of Jews everywhere. Bemoan the fact that this "unfortunate incident" should cast a shadow on her career. Reading the other comments, I hope that you have some regrets for empowering the anti-Semites many of whom are responsible for the thousands of hate emails and death threats that have been received by Rabbi Nessenhoff whose great "crime" was to ask Helen Thomas an innocuous question not expecting the anser full of hate that he received. With those opinions what was Helen Thomas doing as a guest at a White House celebration of 62nd anniversary of Israeli independence?
Once upon a time, before Helen Thomas had fully revealed her own twisted views on a correct future for Israel, and when she still, inexplicably, enjoyed front-row status in the White House Press Corps, she launched into one of her lengthy anti-Israeli rants in the guise of a question, directed at that time to the late Tony Snow, then Press Secretary to President Bush. "Thank you for the Hezbollah view," was Snow's reply at the time.
It was prescient.
As Helen Thomas' career ended in self-made scandal, there was this statement, from Hezbollah MP Hussein Moussawi; “Respected American journalist Helen Thomas’s answer shows … a courageous, bold, honest and free opinion which expresses what people across the globe believe: that Israel is a racist state of murderers and thugs.”
And the great irony is this; neither Hezbollah nor Hamas has ever had a Helen Thomas. Thomas could travel freely in the United States and Israel, question national leaders, write whatever she chose, criticize whomever she wanted, in any way that she wanted.
Just try that in Syria, Helen. Or Hezbollah-controlled South Lebanon, or Hamas-controlled Gaza. I dono't think that they are handing out any "Helen Thomas Awards" for press freedom in any of those places.
Your piece on Helen Thomas was quite dismaying in your speculations as to why she said what she did about Israeli's getting out of Palestine. You should have stopped when you suggested that she was "disgusted with Israeli policies." Your suggestion that her comments were due to "closeted anti-Semitism" or "geriatric obstreperousness" were pure pandering to the pro-Israel lobby. Good for Helen Thomas -- still speaking truth to power -- but even NPR is not open to it. The Palestinians ARE occupied -- an inconvenient truth that Israel and the American media is unwilling to tell. The "disgrace" is not what Helen Thomas did to the media; the disgrace is that you would suggest such a thing!
Bravo, On the Media, for a good recollection of Helen Thomas's great strengths.
How about a segment on the free pass given those Arab haters who have said much the same thing about Palestinians said about Jewish Israelis?
Dan Nessenoff, who caught Thomas on camera, has himself been caught making racist jokes about Hispanics and advocating the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
Many prominent Americans have made similarly revolting comments, most recently Senator Chuck Schumer.
Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm
your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the
right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the
Comment Guidelines before
By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's
On The Media is funded, in part, by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation,
the Overbrook Foundation and the Jane Marcher Foundation.