Thomas Wants White House Press Corps to be More Hostile
By Stephen Spruiell
National Review Online
03/09/06 04:25 PM
Helen Thomas displays an utter detachment from reality in this column for the Nation, titled "Lap Dogs of the Press." She begins:
Of all the unhappy trends I have witnessed — conservative swings on television networks, dwindling newspaper circulation, the jailing of reporters and "spin" — nothing is more troubling to me than the obsequious press during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. They lapped up everything the Pentagon and White House could dish out — no questions asked.
No questions, huh? Well I found a few in the transcript from this press conference Bush gave in March of 2003, just prior to the invasion of Iraq:
Q Mr. President, you have, and your top advisors — notably, Secretary of State Powell — have repeatedly said that we have shared with our allies all the current, up-to-date intelligence information that proves the imminence of the threat we face from Saddam Hussein, and that they have been sharing their intelligence with us, as well. If all these nations, all of them our normal allies, have access to the same intelligence information, why is it that they are reluctant to think that the threat is so real, so imminent that we need to move to the brink of war now?
It goes on. Yes, the press reported that Saddam had weapons (because our intelligence agencies and our allies' intelligence agencies believed it also). But far from being passive conduits for administration spin, the press questioned the president on the very issues that have come to the forefront of the national debate today. The idea that the press "lapped up everything the Pentagon and White House could dish out" is nonsense. One found plenty of arguments in 2003 against invading Iraq from the usual suspects — such as Helen Thomas.
Thomas goes on to argue that the White House Press Corps needs to be more hostile:
It is past time for reporters to forget the party line, ask the tough questions and let the chips fall where they may.
How could someone who sits in the White House briefing room everyday be completely unaware of the fact that the briefings routinely degenerate into shouting matches because the current level of hostility is so high? Whatever curative is needed to repair the relationship between the White House and the press, it is certainly not more hostility.
We don't have a failure to ask "tough questions" — we have an administration that has decided to deal with the adversarial press by tuning it out. The result has been a White House that is often unable to effectively communicate its message. The Washington Post reported two weeks ago that one reason the adminstration bungled its response to the Dubai ports deal is that its communications office was still dealing with the media's ludicrous caterwauling over Dick Cheney's hunting accident. As a result, we've suffered a real consequence: a victory for isolationism in an age when global economic integration holds so much promise both for national security and prosperity.
Thomas says we just need to turn up the heat on this cauldron. I say Helen Thomas is part of the problem.
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