at 86 years of age, helen thomas is a living legend. bane of presidents and other fools, she has been in the front row of the white house briefing room since kennedy's presidency. with the redesign of the media room, it appears that helen is going to lose her seat to cable. considering what passes for journalism these days, i suppose it's only fitting that the front row adds some fluffers and light weights to the ranks. gannon is gone but he's not forgotten.
fox and cnn are campaigning to move up front, feeling that the extra leg room will burnish their prestige. after all, ad sales indicate that they have what has come to represent gravitas, revenue. under a regime that has pounded words like tradition and values into a meaningless paste, you can't be too surprised. helen thomas has been in the front row not simply because of seniority but because of merit. the deference and respect she is accorded by her peers and by successive administrations has been well earned. she isn't just the beloved senior scribe, she's the last true voice of the fourth estate in the room.
helen thomas has never shied away from asking the difficult questions and pursuing press secretaries for answers. in a time of war, with an administration mired in corruption, profiteering, war crimes and torture while staging a full scale assault on the constitution, her leadership is more important than ever. she is the last wolf in room full of sheep. in a recent press event, tony snow and a few others of the self-congratulatory set whined about the bloggers, those wannabe pretenders. david gregory, he of the occasional spine, and a few others puffed up their chests to demean emerging media. as i'm sure the old farts of the news rooms sneared at radio and then at television.
what they are failing to grasp is that, like helen thomas, the blogs are willing to ask the more challenging questions and fight for answers. sure, the blogosphere is a partisan pit of delusions, agendas and basement dwellers but i defy the traditional media to best the coverage that the plame, libby, shooter affair has received at firedog lake. hell, during the libby trial the firedogs were in the courthouse with full accreditation, live blogging the proceedings. they have become a principal source for the very same mainstream media that poo-poos the blogs.
granted, few blogs have the skills and expertise amassed at firedog lake. but then, how many papers, beyond the big nationals, can arrange full-time analysis by a team of former prosecutors, defense attorneys, psychologists and lay experts? to be sure, blogs are generally partisan. two words: fox news. at a recent press event starring president swagger britches, the white house press played patty cake until one brave soul asked a legitimate question and followed up. he was given the bush treatment, mockery and snot. how did the noble beltway fawns react? they chuckled along with his imperial shrubness. the questions died of neglect. the modern press, exposed as access whoring shills by the testimony of russert in the libby trial, have betrayed the example of courage set by helen thomas. they have failed their profession and most notably their public duty, to demand answers from the political establishment.
my output will be limited over the next week as i have picked up a gig scripting a music video. more on that later.