Yesterday, the world lost the voice of one of it's greatest journalists. Lost to the exigencies of political correctness. Hoisted on her own petard.
Gone is the legacy of over 60 years of aggressive truth seeking journalism. Fearlessness in the face of power. A voice that had garnered the respect and fear of 12 or more Presidents of the United States. So undaunted by power that she would even ask a hard question immediately after being praised by such Presidents. Gone is the patient heroine that endured the blatant humiliation of the just previous President who banished her to the back of the room and not once called on her during his term.
What saddens me particularly was the reaction of this White House and in particular President Obama's comments to Matt Lauer this morning when asked about the situation. He said simply "her comments speak for themselves". It is true what she said was destructive, and could be viewed as reprehensible. But did anyone heed her apology? Her heart felt apology? How ironic still that the very next subject that Matt Lauer asked of the President was the foiled "Perfect Game". The President's response was to praise the pitcher who was denied this honor and to also praise and acknowledge the umpire for acknowledging his mistake.
Ms. Thomas's mistake has been seized upon but her apology has not. Her legacy of speaking truth to power, of shining the light on corruption, and the propensity of Man's inhumanity to Man is snuffed out.
I dare anyone here to compare the treatment of Helen Thomas to that of Trent Lott who found himself the object of the same political correctness for voicing what was actually in his heart. The difference I find is that Trent Lott's legacy supports his downfall where as Ms. Thomas's does not. Ask yourself, if what Ms. Thomas had said in the heat of absolute frustration at the spectre of human misery, why are others who actually hold despicable and anti-Semitic sentiments not held similarly accountable? Why is Pat Buchanan still employed? Why is Glenn Beck given a platform? Why is Ann Coulter still speaking?
I also recognize that this is a very old game. A game of destruction as old as politics itself. A game that seizes on any hint of scandal, or any mistake or truthiness to utterly destroy that person. It is a Victorian game where an Oscar Wilde is sent down to prison for daring to challenge the aristocracy. It is the stuff novels like "Dangerous Liaisons" where rich bored aristocrats play high stakes games to destroy each others virtue and honor. A game where a private indiscretion by a sitting President is seized upon by the opposing party with such blood lust and churning waters of sharks enthralled by the smell of weakness.
What I had hoped for in the election of Barack Hussein Obama was that integrity and authenticity would rule the day. What I wanted to hear from the President was that Helen screwed up and perhaps seriously. But to remind the American people that this person should be remembered for her long enduring accomplishments in defense of freedom. Instead, what we got was him either playing the same game or being played by that game.
So White House press corps, in the era of false equivalency passing for journalism, who among you can ever presume to rise to Ms. Thomas's mantle? Who will speak truth to this and future Presidents? Who will be the gadfly when others are sycophants?