News Media
Millbank launches attack on White House Press Corps veteran Helen Thomas
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jul 19, 2006, 00:48

"The Lobby" launches its own attack against a Lebanese target right in the White House.
While Israeli bombs and missiles obliterate Lebanon and her people, the Washington Post's Dana Millbank, a favorite messenger boy for the Bush neocons, launched his own attack against Lebanese-American White House Press Corps doyenne Helen Thomas, in a scathing review of her new book, Watchdogs of Democracy: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Failed the Public.

Thomas has been one of the few White House correspondents to try to hold George W. Bush and his three lapdog press secretaries accountable for their actions.

Millbank does not hide the fact that he detests Thomas and her politics in calling for a more even-handed U.S. approach to the Middle East. Millbank is a noted apologist for Israel and a key member of what has become known as "The Lobby" in Washington. Millbank harangued former CIA officer Ray McGovern, alleging he was anti-Semitic because he stated that the U.S. attack on Iraq was partially carried out for the interests of Israel. But that is Millbank's job and what his Washington Post masters expect him to do.

In her book, Helen Thomas calls the press to task for their relative silence at Bush press conferences when it was made clear that he was intent on leading the United States to war in Iraq. Millbank calls this "a rather unpleasant rehashing of the liberal criticism of the press's performance before the Iraq war." Millbank continues, "Thomas departs from personal anecdote and merely recites some of the millions of words that have been devoted to the cause in previous books, articles and blogs. It is an effort unworthy of a woman who, whatever her late husband was, truly is a journalistic icon."

Here Millbank goes for the jugular. He infers that some of Thomas's material is not original and he brings in Thomas's late husband, Douglas Cornell of the Associated Press. Perhaps Millbank would want to write about Ann Coulter's lack of originality, also known as plagiarism, before he attacks a real journalist.

Millbank's newspaper, the Post, is nothing more than a laughing stock among Washington's independent journalist corps. It is viewed as nothing more than a contrivance of and conveyance for the Bush White House, corporate public relations firms, the Israel Lobby, and advocacy for fly-by-night diploma mill universities (the Post's Kaplan business unit runs 75 diploma mill campuses around the country). Except for some great investigative reporters like Dana Priest (who exposed the CIA's secret prison camps in Eastern Europe), the Post is scoffed at by Washington's independent media -- seen as a rest home for dried up pontificators like Bob Woodward (Leonard Nimoy's "In Search Of" series missed a golden opportunity to film a segment in Washington, DC -- they could have produced a show called "In Search of a Bob Woodward footnote or source.").

Thomas also writes, "White House reporters became a laughingstock before the viewing public, who wondered about all the 'softballs' being pitched to the president at such a momentous time."

Millbank, one of the chief softball tossers, takes umbrage at Thomas's characterization of most of the press corps. He charges that "the sort of questioning Thomas practices, amounting to argument more than query, is not the sort of questioning any generation of journalists practiced -- not even in the salad days of United Press International, before it collapsed and Thomas became a Hearst columnist."

Here, Millbank needs a little history lesson. The White House Press Corps of past were very well known for their tough questioners: Millbank seems to forget Dan Schorr's constant pressing of Lyndon Johnson, Dan Rather holding Richard Nixon's feet to the fire, and Sam Donaldson not allowing Ronald Reagan to squirm from a question. Of course, these were real journalists, acting on behalf of the public, and not the stenographers and corporate, right-wing propagandists who now populate the White House Press Corps.

Millbank also claims that Bush Press Secretaries Ari Fleischer and Tony Snow merely patronize Thomas by calling her "Helen." Far from patronization, Washington's actual journalists call Ms. Thomas "Helen" as a show of respect, something the Bush apologists and neocons in the DC Press Corps have neither earned nor deserve.

PS: Following on the above theme of a Washington Press Corps that is as sycophantic as it is stenographic, the National Press Club last night awarded  "Best Broadcast" to Howard Kurtz of CNN's Reliable Sources. Kurtz and Millbank are in a dead heat in the race to lick George W. Bush's shoes. It's also important to note that the National Press Club has a new member -- welcome Jeff Gannon.

� 2006 All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is author of the forthcoming book, �Jaded Tasks: Big Oil, Black Ops & Brass Plates.� He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report.

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