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Take It Away

New article describes debate over Helen Thomas Award

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Helen Thomas(Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

One of the most disappointing things, besides the obvious, about Helen Thomas’ comments last year that “the Jews should get the hell out of Palestine” was the lack of real depth to the story. Instead, it followed the usual pattern—after the initial incident, outrage followed by carefully scripted apologies and carefully scripted repercussions, and after some time, maybe an interview with a friendly journalist. You never really get to see what’s going behind the scenes in any of the camps, just the faces they show. Thomas’ case is even more frustrating, because she would show up to an interview, say something ridiculous which would go unchallenged, and vanish once again.

That’s why you should read this piece from the Chicago Reader, which builds something special out of what should be a boring story: The debate within the Society of Professional Journalists over the eponymous Helen Thomas award.

Thomas does show up in the article. She rails against, among other things, the Jewish media’s “Jubilance” over her decline, and accuses the Israeli-born SPJ President of, in Mel Gibson’s words, “Having a dog in this fight.” But she’s not really the point—a focus on Thomas and her eminently quotable paranoia would only obscure the nuanced discussion of both the debate within the organization, and a larger one around how we deal with Helen Thomas and her ilk.

In a week of strange Anti-Semitic comments, the urge (which I’m certainly guilty of) to jump on them without reflection is strong. Not that they shouldn’t be condemned—they should be—but they should also be considered.

Was Helen Thomas to Old to Speak Her Mind? [Chicago Reader]
Report: The ‘Jubilance’ of the Jewish Media Made Helen Thomas Cry After She Lost SPJ Award [Commentary]
Earlier: With a Whimper

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What belies all of Thomas’s claims is that she has loudly proclaimed these views, albeit in more diplomatic language, for decades, mostly in her high profile perch in the White House press corps. And her profile as a lovable iconoclast thrived nonetheless. Not only did the ‘Jewish Media’ not treat her vindictively, it positively celebrated her, casting her in the Kevin Kline(half-Jew) vehicle, ‘Dave’, directed by that dastardly Jewish conniver, Ivan Reitman.

The woman is entirely undeserving of anyone’s sympathy and it’s to the SPJ’s great credit that they wouldn’t tolerate the ugliness of her words.

Carl says:

Helen Thomas is the most extreme example of how many journalists work.
Based on their personal belief systems they decide what they want the slant of a story to be then insert or omit facts accordingly. Example–look how much ink has been spilled on the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war and how much on the Jewish refugees from Arab countries? If journalists were really interested in the refugee issue you would expect more to be written about the Jews because at least in Palestine/Israel there was a sort of civil war going on, while in the Arab countries the Jews were simply driven out.

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Take It Away

New article describes debate over Helen Thomas Award

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