Thursday, June 10, 2010

About Helen...

So, by now, I think everyone knows about veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas' comments about Israel. Thomas, one of the few in the White House press corps that actually challenged the office, rather than kowtowing to them, said some unfortunate things about Israel in response to the Gaza flotilla raid. Whether or not you support or condemn Israeli actions, saying that they should go back to Poland and Germany is a bit harsh. I get that she was speaking out of anger about the situation, but she should have known better. There's a more intelligent way to speak against Israeli policy if you oppose it. That being said, the coverage about her has gotten a bit out of hand. And nobody illustrated that better than Jon Stewart last night. (video after the jump). Stewart took his shots at her as well, but his segment about it on the Daily Show also addressed the problems with the media coverage of Thomas better than anyone else. Again, Mark Twain has to play the role of Edward R. Murrow, as I've lamented on before.

In the US, it seems Helen Thomas has become a bigger story than the raid itself. And the raid itself became a bigger story than the discussion about the Gaza blockade in the first place (more about that in an upcoming post). She was forced to retire because of the comments. Now, again, I think what she said was problematic, but I also understand she spoke out of anger. I think her words pale in comparison to the actions of the White House press corps in general. Instead of asking real questions, they often play nice to gain favor with the administration. See where that got us with that whole Iraq war? A lot of Americans and Iraqis aren't here today because the press didn't care to ask hard questions. Thomas was one of the few.

Some are (predictably) adopting the reactionary response, calling Thomas a long-time anti-Semite. She was obviously critical of Israeli policy. That doesn't make her anti-Semitic. That makes her a critic of Israeli policy, like a lot of people. Could she have articulated her arguments better? Sure. That's different than saying she's anti-Semitic.

So, yeah, instead of using this as a way to discuss the broader issues about the raid or the blockade or the US media's view of the Middle East in general, we go after the 89 year old. Good job, you worthless charlatans. Even a Fox News piece said enough is enough about the way people are going after Thomas. So...get 'em, Jon.

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