Will former White House reporter Helen Thomas ever go away? She's now written up a jeremiad perpetuating the myth that our media are mere whimpering lapdogs of Bush, tinny arfs all around. She hones in on that old, diseased chestnut that the liberal media went all soft in the "rush to war" in Iraq.
Helen's harangue appeared in the appropriate platform: The Nation magazine, which advertises on its website the slogan: "If you think it's time to impeach Bush, then it's time for you to subscribe to The Nation."
In a preview of her forthcoming book on the "waning Washington press corps," Thomas begins the presentation of her evidence for the "naive complicity" of the press with the March 6, 2003 press conference. She howled that one reporter asked Bush if he prayed about going to war. This was April Ryan of Urban Radio Networks -- who also mentioned that the liberal Congressional Black Caucus was urging more diplomacy instead of war. But was this supposed sycophant -- who, like it or not, does not work for a "major media" outlet -- truly representative of this press conference?
No. Helen is just not being factual here, and the record proves it. There was quite sharp questioning that night, live in primetime. Indeed, reporters often sounded like they were reading cue cards composed by Howard Dean. CNN's John King cited Sen. Ted Kennedy's belief that "your fixation with Saddam Hussein is making the world a more dangerous place." Ed Chen of the Los Angeles Times demanded to know that if Bush "trusted the people" with their tax cuts, why not trust them enough to give them an estimate of the war costs? David Gregory of NBC asked if the war could be considered a success if Saddam Hussein escaped capture.
If Thomas studied that press conference, she knew all this. And she knows there's even more. She should know. She was there. The Bush people put her in the back row, and refused to call on her.
But the pounding continued. Terry Moran of ABC pompously lectured the president that he had generated opposition from many countries, opened a rift at NATO and the United Nations, and spurred millions into anti-war protests spanning the globe. He then asked, "May I ask what went wrong that so many governments and peoples around the world now not only disagree with you very strongly, but see the U.S. under your leadership as an arrogant power?" Afterward, Moran continued flashing his trademark arrogance, suggesting to one liberal newspaper that the rest of his colleagues were "zombies."