Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thankyou, First Lady of the Press

I was having a conversation with some co-workers today about who "the biggest prick in the world is". We finally all settled on Bill O'Reilly. So of course tonight when I got home there was more news of what idiot thing he said on his show last night. This one really pissed me off.
So Bill O'Reilly was making fun of Helen Thomas comparing her voice to the "wicked witch of the east" and picking at her age and appearance. The thing that really got me is that he attempts to insult her by comparing her to his mom, saying "Well, why can't my mom ask a question". I noticed in the coverage of Hilary Clinton in 2008 that targeting a woman's voice or writing her off as a mother or wife figure are some of the most used tactics for tearing a woman down.

Insulting a woman by comparing her to a mom is assuming that people think moms are all idiots who should be ignored. Some of us happen to have brilliant moms and some moms happen to be brilliant journalists. Demeaning the questions of a journalist who has been on the White House Press Corps since JFK is grounds for us all to ignore O'Reilly. Helen Thomas was the first female member and president of the White House Correspondence Association. She began and ended all the Presidents' Press Conferences from Kennedy to Bush and always brought up the most uncomfortable and important questions.... which eventually is why Bush pushed her to the back of the room and didn't want her to end the conference with her signature "Thankyou, Mr. President". As Helen Thomas herself says "The presidential news conference is the only forum in this country where a president can be questioned on a regular basis and held accountable." On Monday, Obama called on Helen for a question saying "Helen, I'm excited this is my inaugural moment".
Last summer HBO aired a great documentary Rory Kennedy made about Helen Thomas. I believe this is the whole documentary. As Nas would say "Oh really, O'Reilly"

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