In Monday’s Washington Post, TV critic Tom Shales tackled the new HBO documentary on Helen Thomas made by RFK’s daughter Rory Kennedy. Shales oddly suggested that a few (sort of) kind words about Reagan make her free of partisanship, and being attacked by Bill O’Reilly puts her in good company. But Shales suggested the film obscured what a ranting figure Thomas has become in the White House briefing room:
What’s disappointing about Thomas, and troubling about the film, is her stridency in criticizing Israel and defending its enemies. Other than a passing reference to Thomas’s parents as having been Syrian immigrants, the film never hints at Thomas’s anti-Israeli rhetoric. In her writings, she’s already dismissed both John McCain and Barack Obama as being friendly to Israel and hostile to the Palestinians, “so the Israelis have no worries about the November election.”
Especially during the current administration, her “questions” at press briefings have been more like tirades, on one occasion prompting Tony Snow, the late journalist who was then press secretary, to respond, “Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view.” This would have been a pertinent and amusing clip to include in the film. Not for nothing was Thomas recently hailed as “the epitome of journalistic integrity for over 57 years” — by the Arab American News.
I’d already forgotten about Tony Snow’s little gibe-in-passing. Shales also pays tribute to Thomas for lashing out at her fellow reporters for being easy marks for George W. Bush on Iraq. But he concludes that Kennedy and HBO “could easily have included both sides — Thomas attacked and Thomas defended. Even attacking the attackers would have been more honest than ignoring the matter altogether.”