When Helen Freezes Over
Big girls don’t cry. But apparently, even evil old bags do.
How did Helen Thomas react after the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) voted to retire her award in January? By demanding to know whether one of its members worked for the Israeli government and accusing the SPJ’s Israeli-born president of having ulterior motives for eliminating the award, according to a report by the Chicago Reader.
The former White House reporter apparently also decried the alleged “jubilance” of the Jewish media and continued to rail against the “Zionists” who supposedly controlled the communications industry:
After the board decided, [SPJ’s Sigma Delta Chi Foundation president Steve] Geimann called Thomas, and a day later she called him back. The conversation didn’t go well. “She said she already knew,” Geimann reported. “She asked if I worked for the Israeli government and said SPJ was taking away her honor. I tried to explain that the then-recommendation preserved the honor for her, and the other recipients would forever be HT lifetime achievement honorees. She complained about the recommendation, suggested her First amendment rights were being denied then hung up on me.”[In a letter to SPJ’s Israeli-born president, Hagit Limor, Thomas wrote:] “Obviously your Board has bowed to outside pressure, but SPJ did not have the courtesy, nor the courage, to inform me personally of the decision. Instead, I had to read a jubilant press release from the Jewish & Israel News (JTA). Also, you have not stated your honest reasons for your actions. An infamous chapter in SPJ’s long and proud history.”
In a memo to Limor, the society’s director-at-large, Bill McCloskey, described running into Thomas at a party shortly before the organization was set to vote on whether to retire the award.
“Her view [is] that as a columnist and a retiree she has the right to speak her mind,” he wrote. “She also carefully noted that she was talking about Zionists in the political sense, as opposed to the religious sense and said Americans should not allow any group to hold such sway over the communications and other businesses.”
Former SPJ president Christine Tatum, a friend of Thomas’s, also recalled the 91-year-old’s anger at hearing her award’s retirement “trumpeted” by Jewish news organizations.
“[S]he was hearing from these reporters from Jewish news agencies jubilantly trumpeting this [the loss of her award],” Tatum told the Chicago Reader. “Yes, she was angry. In fact, she was crying. She was getting these calls and she was crying.”
Now we know what it takes to make her cry – a loss of honor.
The loss of the lives of millions of Jews, on the other hand, does not seem to elicit any kind of emotional response from her.