Quantcast

Lap Dogs of the Press | The Nation

  •  

Lap Dogs of the Press

  • Share
  • Decrease text size Increase text size

I recall one exchange of mine with press secretary Scott McClellan last May that illustrates the difference, and what I mean by the skeptical reporting during Watergate.

This article is adapted from Helen Thomas's forthcoming book, Watchdogs of
Democracy? The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the
Public
. Copyright © 2006 by Helen Thomas. Printed by permission of Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

About the Author

Helen Thomas
Helen Thomas, a Hearst Newspapers columnist, served for fifty-seven years as a correspondent for United Press...

Also by the Author

HELEN THOMAS, HELEN THOMAS

The Women Legislators Lobby (WiLL) is a professional organization of state legislators formed in 1990 as a program of WAND (Women's Action for New Directions). WAND's mission is to empower women to act politically to reduce militarism and violence, and to redirect excessive military spending toward unmet human and environmental needs. WAND/WiLL honors Helen Thomas with the 2003 BellSouth Torchbearer Award for her lifelong willingness to ask the "tough" questions and her recent commentary speaking truth to power.

Helen:

The other day, in fact this week, you [McClellan] said that we, the United States, are in Afghanistan and Iraq by invitation. Would you like to correct that incredible distortion of American history?

Scott:

No. We are...that's where we are currently.

Helen:

In view of your credibility, which is already mired...how can you say that?

Scott:

Helen, I think everyone in this room knows that you're taking that comment out of context. There are two democratically elected governments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Helen:

Were we invited into Iraq?

Scott:

There are democratically elected governments now in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are there at their invitation. They are sovereign governments, but we are there today.

Helen:

You mean, if they asked us out, that we would have left?

Scott:

No, Helen, I'm talking about today. We are there at their invitation. They are sovereign governments.

Helen:

I'm talking about today, too.

Scott:

We are doing all we can to train and equip their security forces so that they can provide their own security as they move forward on a free and democratic future.

Helen:

Did we invade those countries?

At that point McClellan called on another reporter.

Those were the days when I longed for ABC-TV's great Sam Donaldson to back up my questions as he always did, and I did the same for him and other daring reporters. Then I realized that the old pros, reporters whom I had known in the past, many of them around during World War II and later the Vietnam War, reporters who had some historical perspective on government deception and folly, were not around anymore.

I honestly believe that if reporters had put the spotlight on the flaws in the Bush Administration's war policies, they could have saved the country the heartache and the losses of American and Iraqi lives.

It is past time for reporters to forget the party line, ask the tough questions and let the chips fall where they may.

  • Share
  • Decrease text size Increase text size

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.