There were two valuable lessons I learned in the process of “outing” Helen Thomas as a hater ten years ago today. The first was the importance of making sure what a post is accurate because it can ruin someone’s career (what I posted was correct, and it ruined Ms. Thomas’ career). The other lesson is that mainstream media will do and say anything to protect one of their own. They protected her ten years ago, and many of them are still protecting her. Lid took down Helen Thomas.
My “association” with Helen Thomas began Friday, June 4th, 2010, when a friend Rabbi David Nesenoff sent me a video that contained a short explosive interview he had conducted with Helen Thomas at the White House on Jewish Heritage Day. The tape displayed the veteran White House correspondent telling the Jews to go face another Holocaust. “Go back to Germany or Poland,” she said, which was probably one of the more pleasant things Thomas publicly said about Jews during the last three years of her life.
David asked me if there was anything I could do with the video. He explained he’d already offered it to the mainstream media, Newsday, and even to The Jewish Week, a weekly progressive newspaper for the Jewish community. But no one wanted to take on Ms. Thomas, who at the time was seen as the dean of the White House press corps and very popular with her press corps colleagues, a feeling many of them still have ten years later.
Taking up David’s challenge, I guaranteed the video would have a half a million hits a thirty-six hours later when he turned on his computer again after the Sabbath (I was wrong–it was over 750 thousand).
I quickly wrote it up for The Lid, Breitbart’s Big Journalism, and sent it to Scott Baker (who at the time was running Breitbart TV). To help the posts gain some traction, I sent out tweets and emails to most of the giant website sites. And submitted it to Drudge.
Two hours later, before leaving on a five-hour car ride to my brother’s house for the weekend, the video was posted on the all the Breitbart “Big” sites and as a banner Drudge headline.
The power of the internet was incredible—turning on the TV news five hours later, the same Helen Thomas video they had rejected a few days earlier was dominating the headlines of the mainstream media.
Two days later, I followed up with a post urging that Ms.Thomas keep her job, explaining that Helen Thomas was merely a symptom of the problem, not the disease—media acceptance of Antisemitism. Firing her would be like treating Ebola with a band-aid. She was pushed out anyway.
What I hadn’t counted on after the story broke, was how much the mainstream media loved and wanted to protect Ms. Thomas. Within a few days of the original post, David was being slandered by Mediaite, Juan Cole was accusing me of selectively editing the video (and other affronts to Ms. Thomas), and the hate email piled and nasty comments piled up in my computer.
A friend who covered the WH at the time told me off the record that he wasn’t surprised by her comments. He had heard her make similar ones before. But they didn’t matter to him because that friend considered her a mentor and was angry that I had the nerve, to tell the truth about Thomas. Apparently, others were upset also.
In the years afterward, Thomas, unencumbered by a “front line” media job, made new anti-Semitic comments, but her colleagues in the media were still protecting her. They claimed her slanders were political, not hateful. They refused to say she was anti-Semitic, but merely anti-Israel—a dangerous affront to the truth.
Two years after Thomas’ hatred was exposed, Michael Calderone wrote at the Huffington Post:
Thomas, a former WHCA president who covered 10 administrations before retiring from Hearst newspapers in 2010 over controversial comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Charles Lewis, a former investigative producer for ABC News and CBS’s 60 Minutes, created a website to honor “independent” journalists. One of the site’s initial honorees was Ms. Thomas. In their chronology of her career, the site lied about what she said:
After making controversial comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Thomas retires from Hearst Newspapers.
Saying the Jews have no right to a homeland is anti-Semitic just ask Pope Francis. Telling the Jews to go back to the countries of the Holocaust upped the Jew-hatred ante. But the mainstream media continues to whitewash Ms. Thomas’ statement as about the “Israel- Palestinian conflict.” That is a lie.
If making false and slanderous statements regarding Israel was a crime that leads to termination, the NY Times newsroom would be empty. Heck, even in Israel, you don’t get fired for being anti-Israel (have you ever read the Israeli paper Ha’aretz?).
Proving that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, on December 2nd, almost six months to the day when the original video went viral, Helen Thomas spoke at an anti-Arab bias workshop in Dearborn Michigan spewing more Antisemitism. At the anti-bias conference, Thomas explained that she absolutely stood by her ugly comments about Jews made earlier this year and added the anti-Semitic canard that Zionists [Jews] control US foreign policy and other American institutions
At 12/2/10 at the conference, Thomas was asked about her statements on that video that destroyed her career.
“I paid the price for that,” said Thomas, a longtime White House correspondent. “But it was worth it, to speak the truth. The Zionists have to understand that’s their country, too. Palestinians were there long before any European Zionists.”
Alluding to the anti-Semitic canard that Jews control the media, Thomas said:
“You can not say anything (critical) about Israel in this country.
That was the nicest thing Thomas said all night. She blamed anti-Arab prejudice on the Jews, launching into an anti-Semitic tirade about how those wealthy Jews control America.
In a speech that drew a standing ovation, Thomas claimed those Jews own Congress, Hollywood, and Wall Street:
the whole question of money involved in politics.” ”We are owned by propagandists against the Arabs. There’s no question about that. Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where there mouth is…We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way.
The video below is her full 12-2 speech in Dearborn.
When asked by the interviewer if she had a personal antipathy toward Jews themselves, Thomas labeled the Jews as Arab haters. She denied they had a historical connection to the Jewish State. She made some renewed claims about the worldwide “Jewish” conspiracy a little later in the interview.
PLAYBOY: That stereotype of Jewish control has been around for more than a century. Do you actually think there’s a secret Jewish conspiracy at work in this country?
THOMAS: Not a secret. It’s very open. What do you mean secret?
PLAYBOY: Well, for instance, explain the connection between Hollywood and what’s happening with the Palestinians.
THOMAS: Power over the White House, power over Congress.
PLAYBOY: By way of contributions?
THOMAS: Everybody is in the pocket of the Israeli lobbies, which are funded by wealthy supporters, including those from Hollywood. Same thing with the financial markets. There’s total control.
(the full Playboy interview is embedded at the end of this post)
Helen Thomas was a trailblazer. When it comes to the White House press corps, she broke the “glass ceiling,’ mentored new reporters, and always pressed Presidents and their Press Secretaries for honest answers to difficult questions.
A Journalist’s job is to tell the truth. While the mainstream media whitewashed Ms.Thomas’ “go back to Germany” statement about the “Israel- Palestinian conflict.” That’s a lie. And if the original video first published ten years ago didn’t prove it, her comments in Dearborn and Playboy should be enough corroboration to substantiate what she meant.
When Helen Thomas died on July 20th, 2013, she was celebrated by the mainstream media as the trailblazer she was. However, in telling her story, the media continues to ignore and/or falsified her entire story. They claimed her career was ruined by an anti-Israel comment. Her career was ruined because she was a vicious anti-Semite. Her hatred began to be exposed on this site ten years ago, and her media colleagues are still covering it up.
The media is still spinning the truth about Helen Thomas. In November 2018, the Washington Post told a Helen Thomas half-truth ignoring where she said the Jews should go and her post-firing Antisemitism:
In 1975, Thomas became the first female president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. She quit UPI in 2000 and soon joined the Hearst newspapers. Her long career abruptly ended under a cloud of controversy in 2010 after Thomas, who was of Lebanese descent, said Jews should leave Palestinian territories.
In preparation for this post, I contacted members of the press who covered the WH ten years ago to understand their feelings about the Thomas scandal ten years ago. Despite an offer of anonymity, only two of the many reporters contacted replied. One rejected the request. But the other wrote:
“Generally, it is sad when someone legendary for longevity exited journalism in such a way. But, the fact is she said unacceptable things that would have gotten anyone on the right fired. I generally don’t want to assume the worst. But, invoking Germany and Poland was eerie. And certainly, she’s said other things in public venues. I was well aware of the lore around Helen Thomas when I started covering. I once even interviewed her very briefly. Another reporter informed me she often asked very anti-Israel in questions. But, before this video, I assumed that might fit in with her view the U.S. shouldn’t be involved in Afghanistan or Iraq.
The comments at this event seemed to indicate her problem wasn’t with the Jewish state per se, but with the people.
It should be said the White House Correspondents Association had announced it would review the seating chart just prior to Thomas abruptly announcing her retirement, which of course wasn’t voluntary.
The reaction was mixed. I recall one reporter suggesting she’s 90-years-old, maybe she didn’t know what she was saying. I don’t really recall anyone defending what she said. But I think so many people there knew her for years they weren’t sure how to address it.
The initial question was whether she would lose her front-row seat. I was there the day Robert Gibbs got a question about it.
Gibbs answered: “She should and has apologized. Because obviously, those remarks do not reflect certainly the opinion of most of the people here and certainly not of the administration.” Whether or not the remarks reflected the opinion of the Obama administration is a story for another day.
When Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was accused of posing in blackface for his medical school yearbook, the media didn’t report that “some say” blackface is racist–it is racist.
Helen Thomas’ statements beginning on June 4th, 2010, through her death in 2013, weren’t anti-Israel, they were anti-Semitic. The story of Ms. Thomas’ Antisemitism, is a case study about how the mainstream media protected their own–and still protects her ten years later. The media continues to cover up her actual hatred.
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