Jonah Goldberg: The real Helen Thomas
Thomas did help break down the barriers to women in the D.C. press corps. "Helen Thomas made it possible for all of us who followed," NBC's Andrea Mitchell wrote on Twitter. Obviously, it's an exaggeration to suggest that women wouldn't have made so many worthwhile gains in journalism were it not for Thomas. But she was the first female member of a lot of clubs, and that counts for something.
Hamas was less interested in Thomas' role as a path-breaking feminist icon than the fact that, at a 2010 White House Jewish heritage event, she growled into a camera that the Jews should "get the hell out" of Israel (or "Palestine" in her telling) and go back to Poland, Germany and America. That statement, cheered by Hezbollah at the time, was too much for Hearst, which quickly ushered her off to retirement, where she cultivated her status as a truth-teller martyred by the Zionists who control everything in America.
The New York Times managed to identify a scoop: Her reports of her phone conversations with Martha Mitchell, the emotionally disturbed wife of Watergate-era Attorney General John Mitchell. Mrs. Mitchell had a habit — owing in part to her reported alcoholism — of getting drunk and telephoning whoever would listen to her rants. Most reporters stopped exploiting Mitchell once it became clear how ill the woman was. Not Thomas. She happily transcribed the calls, even reporting how Mitchell's young daughter was begging her mother to get off the phone with Thomas. "Don't talk to her, she's no friend."
The best answer I can come up with: She had a long tradition of existence.
Jonah Goldberg is the author of "The Tyranny of Cliches," now on sale in paperback. You can write to him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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