According to George Stephanopoulos, the late Helen Thomas, who passed away on Saturday, was a "passionate," "tenacious" journalist who only got a "bit" "biased" at the end of her career. The former Democratic operative turned journalist reminisced over his interactions with her when he was White House Press Secretary for Bill Clinton.
Appearing on Sunday's Good Morning America, Stephanopoulos remembered, "She was so tenacious, so passionate. She was such a trail blazer and mentor to a lot of women reporters in that White House briefing room as well and everybody could count on her to ask the tough questions." Regarding Thomas's venomous, anti-Israel rant in 2010, the host conceded, "...At the end of her career, she did, in some ways, let her biases loose a little bit, had to apologize for that later." [MP3 audio here.]
Stephanopoulos lectured, "But it doesn't mar an amazing career serving the country, a real beacon for the free press and a real passionate trailblazer for journalists."
Thomas's May 27, 2010 comments, in which she told Jews to "go home" to Europe, the land of the Holocaust, were bad enough. But it's simply factually wrong to claim she only became biased at the end.
A Media Research Center Profile in Bias found an openly pro-liberal slant through her long career:
'I think he left an uncaring society....a government that was not as concerned.'
— UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas talking about Ronald Reagan on CBS News Nightwatch, December 30, 1988.
...Lacked a Soul
'All of us who covered the Reagans agreed that President Reagan was personable and charming, but I'm not so certain he was nice. It's hard for me to think of anyone as nice when I hear him say 'The homeless are homeless because they want to be homeless.' To my mind, a President should care about all people, and he didn't, which is why I will always feel Reagan lacked soul.'
— UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas in the July 1993 Good Housekeeping.
Liberal Bias = Caring About Sick and Maimed
'A liberal bias? I don't know what a liberal bias is. Do you mean we care about the poor, the sick, and the maimed? Do we care whether people are being shot every day on the streets of America? If that's liberal, so be it. I think it's everything that's good in life - that we do care. And also for the solutions - we seek solutions and we do think that we are all responsible for what happens in this country.'
— UPI White House correspondent Helen Thomas on C-SPAN's Journalists Roundtable, December 31, 1993.
But She Hid It So Well
'I'm a liberal, I was born a liberal, and I will be a liberal 'til the day I die.'
— Longtime UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas, now a columnist for Hearst newspapers, in a Q&A published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, November 5, 2006.
In February of 2010, Thomas referred to Al-Qaeda as "so-called terrorists" and insisted that "some people think they're freedom fighters."
Perhaps Stephanopoulos simply just wasn't paying attention? For more examples, go here.
A transcript of the July 21 segment is below:
BIANNA GOLODRYGA: I want to turn to a different story. We learned of the passing of Helen Thomas, the trail blazing journalist yesterday. Known for her brash style, never to be intimidated by presidents. I believe she covered ten presidents.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Starting with Kennedy.
GOLODRYGA: Starting with Kennedy before her fall from grace in 2010 over controversial comments she made about Israel. But you knew her very well, both as a fellow journalist and on the receiving end. What is she most-going to be remembered for?
STEPHANOPOULOS: No question about it. She put me in my place as White House briefing as White House press secretary back in 1993. She let me know that she was in charge. She was deciding when the briefing started, when it ended. And -- but, you know, I admire – oh, gosh. [Video of Stephanopoulos in the Clinton White House appears.]
GOLODRYGA: There you are.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, she was so tenacious, so passionate. She was such a trail blazer and mentor to a lot of women reporters in that White House briefing room as well and everybody could count on her to ask the tough questions. You're right, Bianna, at the end of her career, she did, in some ways, let her biases loose a little bit, had to apologize for that later. But it doesn't mar an amazing career serving the country, a real beacon for the free press and a real passionate trailblazer for journalists.
GOLODRYGA: She was called the dean of the White House press corps.
-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.