Trying to make nice with the people he alienated during the first two years of his presidency, on May 27th 2010, six years ago Barack Obama held the first Jewish Heritage Day. Unexpectedly that day turned out to be the day veteran reporter Helen Thomas revealed herself to world as a bigot. Well maybe not the whole world because members of the White House press corps already knew what she was, but they overlooked her bigotry because she had mentored many of them, and they felt the obligation to protect one of their own, and of course because she was a liberal. Even after she left the press corps the mainstream media continued to try and protect her bigotry from the public.
My association with the Helen Thomas story began the next Friday when my friend Rabbi David Nesenoff sent me a video which contained a short explosive interview he had conducted with Helen Thomas. There on tape the veteran White House correspondent gave a statement that many people (including me) saw as telling the Jews to go face another Holocaust–telling them to go back to Germany or Poland.
On the call David asked me if there was anything I could do with the video. He had already offered it to the mainstream media and even The Jewish Week, a weekly progressive newspaper for the Jewish community and no one would touch touch the video or the story. Taking up David’s challenge, I guaranteed the video would have a half a million hits before he turned on the computer again after the Sabbath (I was wrong–it was over three-quarters of a million).I quickly posted it on my site The Lid, wrote it up for Big Journalism, gave it to Scott Baker (who at the time was running Breitbart TV , and sent out tweets and emails to most of the large sites. Before I left on a five hour car ride to my brother’s house for the weekend the video was posted on the Breitbart Big sites and as a banner Drudge headline.
It spread much quicker than expected, during the long drive we heard the story broadcast on the car radio and by the time I arrived in Maryland the same video they had rejected a few days earlier was dominating the headlines of the mainstream media.
In the immediate aftermath, my feeling was that Helen Thomas shouldn’t be fired for her anti-Semitic rantings. I wrote that she was merely a symptom of the problem, not the disease. The networks have always refused to recognize Jew-haters in their own midst, but usually found a way to label conservatives as bigots whether true or not. Firing Thomas would be like treating HIV with a band aid. But in the end Thomas was forced out.
With the loss her position, Thomas, unencumbered by a “front line” media job made new anti-Semitic comments, but her colleagues in the media continued to protect her by claiming her original and new slanders were political, not hateful. They claimed is that she wasn’t anti-Semitic, but simply anti-Israel—a dangerous affront to the truth. For example Michael Calderone wrote at 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
Interesting because if Thomas was a conservative Calderone would have insisted she be publicly executed.
Charles Lewis former investigative producer for ABC News and the CBS’s 60 Minutes created a new website to honor “independent” journalists.One of the site’s initial honorees was Ms. Thomas. In their chronology of her career the site reported:
After making controversial comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Thomas retires from Hearst Newspapers.
The mainstream media continued to whitewash Ms.Thomas’ statement as about the “Israel- Palestinian conflict.” That’s a lie.
If making false and slanderous statements regarding Israel was a crime that lead to termination, the NY Times newsroom would be empty, or Ayman Mohyeldin would have been ousted from NBC News.
Just six months after her firing retirement Thomas was at it again (again it was captured on video and again the story was broken on The Lid and Big Journalism)
Ironically it was a speech at a Arab anti-bias conference Thomas was asked about her statements on that video.
“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 claim 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. In her speech about discrimination against Arabs she blamed it on the Jews, launching into an anti-Semitic tirade about how those rich Jews control America (video above).
In a speech that drew a standing ovation, Thomas claimed:
“ ”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.
After her biased stint at the anti-Bias conference, Thomas wasn’t through. In March 2011 Playboy interviewed her. When asked by the interviewer if she had a personal antipathy toward Jews themselves Thomas labeled the Jews as Arab-haters and denied they had an historical connection to the Jewish State, and 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.
Chicago Sun Times columnist Michael Sneed once wrote an item about Ms. Thomas’ receipt of an award from the PLO:
The turn of the screw: Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas, 91, who was forced into retirement after making incendiary remarks about Israel
When Helen Thomas said the Palestinians were there long before any European Zionists, she was simply being historically inaccurate and biased against Israel. But when she said the media Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by Zionists, Thomas was using traditional anti-Semitic libels straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But the media covered up her hatred.
The media’s protection of Helen Thomas by insisting that she was anti-Israel rather than anti-Semitic comes from the their’ desire to protect fellow progressives. Back then as now, network news refused to recognize anti-Semitism unless it served their need to slander conservatives.
MSNBC, for example has a history of bigoted statements and hosts but did nothing, on network news Al Sharpton who led anti-Semitic pogroms is idolized as a “human rights” leader, commentators decry charges of Antisemitism against President Obama without looking into his actual Jew Hatred.
On the other hand, labels of Antisemitism are placed on conservatives because it corroborates their their false tale that the right-wing is dominated by bigots. Conservatives such as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and even Ted Cruz have been falsely labeled Jew Haters, but Hillary Clinton who once compared Orthodox Jews to Iranian fundamentalists is given a bye.
Helen Thomas died three years ago; she is recognized by the mainstream media as a trailblazer. But she should be remembered for the hater she was and how her hatred and the road to her self-destruction was covered-up by the mainstream media.