One of the most disappointing things, besides the obvious, about Helen Thomas’ comments last year that “the Jews should get the hell out of Palestine” was the lack of real depth to the story. Instead, it followed the usual pattern—after the initial incident, outrage followed by carefully scripted apologies and carefully scripted repercussions, and after some time, maybe an interview with a friendly journalist. You never really get to see what’s going behind the scenes in any of the camps, just the faces they show. Thomas’ case is even more frustrating, because she would show up to an interview, say something ridiculous which would go unchallenged, and vanish once again.
That’s why you should read this piece from the Chicago Reader, which builds something special out of what should be a boring story: The debate within the Society of Professional Journalists over the eponymous Helen Thomas award.
Thomas does show up in the article. She rails against, among other things, the Jewish media’s “Jubilance” over her decline, and accuses the Israeli-born SPJ President of, in Mel Gibson’s words, “Having a dog in this fight.” But she’s not really the point—a focus on Thomas and her eminently quotable paranoia would only obscure the nuanced discussion of both the debate within the organization, and a larger one around how we deal with Helen Thomas and her ilk.
In a week of strange Anti-Semitic comments, the urge (which I’m certainly guilty of) to jump on them without reflection is strong. Not that they shouldn’t be condemned—they should be—but they should also be considered.
Was Helen Thomas to Old to Speak Her Mind? [Chicago Reader]
Report: The ‘Jubilance’ of the Jewish Media Made Helen Thomas Cry After She Lost SPJ Award [Commentary]
Earlier: With a Whimper