Helen Thomas And Failure Of American Journalism

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Without endorsing her comments, it's clear this outstanding journalist, with a rich resume that dwarfs those of most pundits now attacking her, was frustrated given the continued atrocities of the Israeli government ....Often legitimate criticism of Israel is labeled “anti-Semitism.”

[Speaking Truth To Power]

This week, legendary White House Press Correspondent Helen Thomas, retired under pressure following her comments regarding Israel.

Why is Thomas being made the pariah instead of the spineless "mainstream" media?

On May 27, Thomas, 89, who had spent 67 years in journalism, was asked by Rabbi David Nesenoff if she would like to make a statement to the State of Israel. Thomas replied: “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people are occupied it’s their land."

When asked where Israelis should go she said: “They should go home to Poland, Germany and America.”
 
Thomas later apologized saying on her website “I deeply regret my comments, I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties
recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.”
 
Many have taken the opportunity to lampoon Thomas. Former George W. Bush spin-doctor, Ari Fleischer said, before she quit, “She should lose her job over this.” He also remarked “As someone who is Jewish, and as someone who worked with her, and used to like her, I find this appalling.”
 
Former White House spokesman, for Bill Clinton, Lanny Davis claimed Thomas had “showed herself to be an anti-Semitic bigot.” He questioned “If she had asked all Blacks to go back to Africa, what would the White House Correspondents Association position be as to whether she deserved White House press room credentials—much less a privileged honorary seat?”
 
Tellingly, the supposed paragons of the press have used this moment to preach the same old discredited fantasies about the rules of journalism. For example, on CNN, last Tuesday, the morning show hosts declared that Thomas’ legacy was “tarnished.” During the segment, reporter  Frank Sesno pontificated that Thomas should pay for her transgression because as he put it “words matter.” Words do matter. However, the irony is many in the bought-and-paid-for media only seem to realize this in certain situations.
 
Here’s a question for CNN: why didn’t “words matter” when Wolf Blitzer allowed Bill Bennett to lie his way out of explaining his racist comments promoting genocide of Black babies? Bennett—a former education secretary and Drug Czar—stated on his “Morning in America” radio show that if “you wanted to reduce crime--if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every Black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.”

Blitzer passively accepted Bennett’s obviously bogus explanation that the phantom “liberal media” had distorted his words. However, when Blitzer interviewed Harry Belafonte, he pressured Belafonte about his characterization of George W. Bush as a “terrorist.” Where was the journalistic “objectivity" at that moment?
 
The establishment likes to promote the media fabrication of supposed “objective journalism.” Some have accused Thomas, who in recent years has been a columnist, of violating this supposed journalistic commandment. To her credit, she has articulated the injustices against Palestinians—just as she did in relation to the killings of innocent Iraqis and Afghans—that  the corporate “gatekeepers” unethically ignore.
 
There are some essential points to be made here. First, journalism should be about ferreting out the facts and publishing the truth, without fear or favor of whom it might expose. “Objectivity” is only necessary when the facts in a particular case are still murky. But when the facts are in evidence, why should journalists be “objective” and give equal weight to the dishonest, absurd arguments of those in power?

The real truth is corporate journalists hide behind the “objectivity” mantra when they fear challenging those “powers that be.” Thomas has warned about the troubling aspects of today’s “obsequious press.”
 
In the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Israel is always portrayed as the peaceful law-abiding country. They can do no wrong. The Palestinians are characterized, purely through the lens of Hamas, as a war-mongering people. Palestinians expressed their self-determination by voting members of Hamas into the Palestinian government. However, Western leaders only like “democracy” when people vote for leaders they like. American media tells us nothing about the Israeli government’s murder of Palestinians. The media message is clear: Palestinian lives are worth less that the lives of Israelis.
 
Some argue that Thomas’ comments went too far. Without endorsing her comments, it's clear this outstanding journalist, with a rich resume that dwarfs those of most pundits now attacking her, was frustrated given the continued atrocities of the Israeli government and the absence of conscience within American journalism. Often legitimate criticism of Israel is labeled “anti-Semitism.” Think about it, the establishment media has already forgotten Israel’s vicious, unwarranted attack on the “Freedom Flotilla,” killing nine civilians--several Turkish citizens. Turkey called it "state terrorism." Why haven't any of the pundits that attacked Thomas done the same with Turkey?
 
This week the United Nations imposed sanctions against Iran, supposedly to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons capability. Where are the sanctions against Israel for repeatedly violating U.N. Security Council resolutions—and occupying Palestinians lands—since 1967? It’s sad that those who support Isreal uncritically use their past suffering, during the Holocaust, to shame others, including American media, into complicit silence in the face of the Israeli government’s crimes against Palestinians.
 
In the end, American journalism --not Helen Thomas-- has failed us.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."


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