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Emanuel�s stringent press conference rules freeze out veteran reporter
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 5, 2009, 00:16

Although veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas was restored by the Obama White House to her front row position at White House news conferences after being moved to the third row by the Bush administration, first row status does not earn the dean of the White House Press Corps any special attention from Obama.

In fact, at Obama�s prime time television news conference on April 29, which marked his 100th day in office, Thomas was not called on by Obama.

WMR�s White House Press Corps sources report that Obama�s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has crafted a policy that skips over Thomas to prevent her from asking Obama any probing questions about U.S. Middle East policy. Apparently, Emanuel was furious when Thomas, given the first question at Obama�s first news conference on February 9, asked, �Do you know any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?� Obama knew the answer to the question -- Israel -- but waffled in his response to Thomas�s question by stating he did not want to �speculate� and switched gears to Russia.

Emanuel, who is being painted as a fierce critic of Israel�s new Likud-led government, is, in reality, nothing of the sort. Emanuel�s retaliation against Thomas, a Lebanese-American, was quick. At his March 24 press conference, Obama failed to call on Thomas, even though he took questions from the Sun Myung Moon-owned Washington Times and Republican-oriented Politico. On April 29, Thomas continued to be frozen out by Obama. In fact, Obama is now copying George W. Bush in passing over the long-time White House correspondent in an attempt to avoid being pinned down on potentially embarrassing questions.

Many Arab-Americans have not forgotten the anti-Arab statement of Benjamin Emanuel, the chief of staff�s father and a former Zionist terrorist in Israel, who, when asked if his son�s White House position would be good for Israel, replied, �Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel . . . Why wouldn�t he be? What is he, an Arab? He�s not going to clean the floors of the White House.�

When it comes to what they think of Arab-Americans, whether they are a White House Press Corps dean or a janitor, in the Emanuel father-son team, the apple did not fall far from the tree.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright � 2009

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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