Tonight, HBO will air a documentary by Rory Kennedy about White House press room mainstay Helen Thomas called Thank You, Mr. President. While less sexy than other HBO fare such as Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal and probably less controversial than Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, it promises to offer journalism buffs some insight into Ms. Thomas’ incredible 47-year (and still going strong) career.
The New York Times‘ Susan Stewart says:
Ms. Kennedy, who conducted the interview at her mother’s Hickory Hill estate, doesn’t ask the kind of hard-hitting questions that her subject is known for and never brings up the more extreme statements Ms. Thomas has made since she left United Press International and became a columnist for Hearst in 2000. In a speech six years ago at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ms. Thomas said: ‘I censored myself for 50 years when I was a reporter. Now I wake up and ask myself, "Who do I hate today?"’
The Washington Post‘s Tom Shales weighs in with the following:
What’s disappointing about Thomas, and troubling about the film, is her stridency in criticizing Israel and defending its enemies. Other than a passing reference to Thomas’s parents as having been Syrian immigrants, the film never hints at Thomas’s anti-Israeli rhetoric. In her writings, she’s already dismissed both John McCain and Barack Obama as being friendly to Israel and hostile to the Palestinians, ‘so the Israelis have no worries about the November election.’
We just wonder if the film includes Ms. Thomas’ terrifying near assault on Stephen Colbert in 2006.