Green Room

No Country For Old Hens

posted at 1:00 am on June 8, 2010 by

It’s easy to see the contemptible end of Helen Thomas’ career as a metaphor for the twilight of the entire dinosaur media.  Her departure is the latest tremor in a rapidly shifting print and television landscape.  This is no country for old hens.

Fellow Green Room contributor Karl’s fine roundup of media reaction to the Thomas retirement includes a quote from Jonah Goldberg of National Review, making the point that Helen Thomas has been “a nasty piece of work” for a long time.  Why did the White House press corps spend decades reserving an honorary seat for an ancient lunatic?  Press briefings are a structural chokepoint that new media can’t bypass – there are only so many seats available, and only so much time the President and his spokespeople can devote to answering questions.  What purpose was served by allowing Helen Thomas to squat in one of those precious seats like Jabba the Hutt’s nasty little imp, hooting and screaming incomprehensible insults at everyone who got tossed into the monster pit?

A portion of the blame lies with every Administration – Democrat, Republican, and Whig – which tolerated her presence, when they could have asked for her removal, or simply shoved her into the back of the room and ignored her.  The White House refrained from doing this as a courtesy to the media… or, perhaps, as a concession to self-important journalists who loveopportunities to hail their colleagues as First Amendment martyrs.

This is the kind of cozy, elitist collegiality that transforms the mainstream media into an arm of the epic super-government they worship.  The media might be only the Fourth Estate, but it’s the estate us common folks have to cross, in order to learn anything important about our ruling class… and the grounds of that estate are dotted with exclusive lawn parties we are pointedly not invited to attend.

The fall of Helen Thomas is a sign the New Media have crashed those genteel lawn parties, clad in combat pajamas and digital beer hats, asking rude questions about the hosts and laughing at their sputtering indignation.  The New Media doesn’t stand on ceremony.  Its elder statesmen, talk radio pioneers like Rush Limbaugh, have spent their entire careers being insulted and disrespected by the mainstream press.  The same political and opinion elite that indulged decades of insane prattle from Helen Thomas, politely ignoring some of her worst outbursts, was quick to trumpet fraudulent accusations of racism against Limbaugh for things he never said, to paint him as unfit for association with a professional football team.  Such relentless assaults build thick skin, and sharp wits.  The New Media breeds gladiators, and has little patience for deans and doyennes.

The dinosaur media love to rewrite history.  Anything that doesn’t fit a preferred media narrative is quickly flushed down the memory hole.  They don’t quite realize how completely the New Media has foreclosed this option.  Bloggers find everything, and forget nothing.  Pathetic attempts to edit the Helen Thomas narrative are already popping up… and shriveling away in the withering heat of Internet search engines.  For example, take Tommy Christopher’s pathetic attempt to claim Thomas’ colleagues were filled with righteous indignation over a story conservative blogs dragged them into covering, and the controversial remarks were a shocking aberration that nobody in the press pool was “prepared to hear.”  Here’s Helen Thomas on terrorism, from January of this year:

I was trying to find out why, why, what’s, look, we’ve been in this war, eight, nine years, against this so-called terrorism. And I do say “so-called” because in the newspapers, if you read, you read about the militants, you don’t read about us bombing everybody, and never really explaining why, and going into three, four different countries, Middle East, Africa, and so forth. Who are we? And why are we doing this?

Here she is from January 2009, holding forth on the way those dastardly Zionists hold President Obama’s puppet strings, just like they controlled each of his predecessors:

I think that Obama, during the campaign, made many promises, as every president, potential president does to Israel, that they seem somehow bounded by their promises, promises to uphold all Israeli goals. I don’t see how the U.S. can provide F-16s, gunships, Apache gunships, phosphorus, possibly phosphorus, and cluster bombs and so forth to kill helpless people, children who are starving to death.

This is the creature Tommy Christopher professes to have “admired for years,” and respects for “setting an example for the Bush-era press corps,” which Christopher hilariously thinks “gave W. a years-long pass after 9/11.”  Sorry, Tommy.  Anyone more observant than the average member of the Washington press corps heard nothing surprising out of Helen Thomas this past week.

The old media hands waving farewell with copies of their dying newspapers, as they watch Helen Thomas shuffle off the national stage, must adjust to the new reality of an online America that no longer trusts them.  We’re not interested in gatekeepers and packaged narratives any more.  We believe in the importance of an honest media that simply reports the news and allows us to make up our own minds.  We’re out of patience with blackouts anddoctored photographs.

The press never tires of telling us how important their job is.  They should spend more time doing it, and less time bending their knees at ceremonial seats reserved for their mythic heroes.  The free press of a vibrant republic, at risk in a complex and dangerous world, is no place for doddering royalty.

Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.

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Saw the headline and immediately knew it was Doc-Z. I don’t have words – I’ll have to steal Doc’s.

crashed those genteel lawn parties, clad in combat pajamas and digital beer hats, asking rude questions about the hosts and laughing at their sputtering indignation.

Gold, just Gold. No, Platinum. Luvs me some Doc-Z…

Who is John Galt on June 8, 2010 at 1:18 AM

You’re so good that I always read through your posts, and with my short attention span that is a feat in itself. Excellent post by an excellent writer.

Living4Him5534 on June 8, 2010 at 2:01 AM

And a brave new world it is.

By the way, this:

A portion of the blame lies with every Administration – Democrat, Republican, and Whig – which tolerated her presence

was sheer brilliance.

Cylor on June 8, 2010 at 5:47 AM

Doc Z your spot on as usual. Your ability to put into words what everyone else is thinking is unmatched! I nearly split a side over the whig reference!

Mini-14 on June 8, 2010 at 8:21 AM

Such relentless assaults build thick skin, and sharp wits. The New Media breeds gladiators, and has little patience for deans and doyennes . . . The dinosaur media love to rewrite history. Anything that doesn’t fit a preferred media narrative is quickly flushed down the memory hole.

We listen to TV news and read the newspaper, and we recognize the blatant bias and spin. Once someone lies to you, you never completely trust that person again. And with the MSM, there have been repeated lies – and thus everything they say/write becomes suspect.

themediansib on June 8, 2010 at 8:40 AM

Doctor Zero wields a sharp pen. Touche!

publiuspen on June 8, 2010 at 8:46 AM

Jabba the Hutt’s nasty little imp

To be fair, Salacious Crumb is a lot cuter than Helen.

Disturb the Universe on June 8, 2010 at 8:50 AM

The fall of Helen Thomas is a sign the New Media have crashed those genteel lawn parties, clad in combat pajamas and digital beer hats, asking rude questions about the hosts and laughing at their sputtering indignation.

There’s a brilliant political cartoon lurking in that imagery.

Disturb the Universe on June 8, 2010 at 8:52 AM

This is no country for old hens.

Time for a barbeque.

Disturb the Universe on June 8, 2010 at 8:56 AM

What purpose was served by allowing Helen Thomas to squat in one of those precious seats like Jabba the Hutt’s nasty little imp, hooting and screaming incomprehensible insults at everyone who got tossed into the monster pit?

That is just brilliantly hilarious imagry.

Heralder on June 8, 2010 at 9:09 AM

The New Media breeds gladiators, and has little patience for deans and doyennes.

My personal favorite line, and may it always be true. Coming days may test that theme.

Ragspierre on June 8, 2010 at 9:53 AM

What purpose was served by allowing Helen Thomas to squat in one of those precious seats like Jabba the Hutt’s nasty little imp, hooting and screaming incomprehensible insults at everyone who got tossed into the monster pit?

Helen “Salacious Crumb” Thomas: a perfect analogy.

OhioCoastie on June 8, 2010 at 12:42 PM

The dinosaur media love to rewrite history. Anything that doesn’t fit a preferred media narrative is quickly flushed down the memory hole.

Anyone else reminded of the way the old Soviet Union would alter photos so that whoever was on the outs would get edited out of the photograph?

Minds that are alike.

rbj on June 8, 2010 at 12:59 PM

“The free press of a vibrant republic”

See? Dr. Zero gets it, as usual.

One of the biggest casualty of this Country is the meme being thrown around and pushed by academia, the MSM and the Government for over a Century: that we are a “democracy”.

How better to take away our Liberty and Freedoms than to dissuade the use of that fragrant word: Republic

Opposite Day on June 8, 2010 at 6:39 PM

She lost the coin flip. You do write the obvious here, but in doing so your title springs to life describing the age-old struggle between good and evil playing out dramatically in the media.

2 thumbs up.

ericdijon on June 8, 2010 at 8:32 PM

she’s lebanese

she has an ethnic allegiance.

it trumps her citizenship under the US of A

blatantblue on June 8, 2010 at 10:17 PM

Spot on, as usual, Doc. Their arrogance is usually their downfall.

kingsjester on June 8, 2010 at 10:22 PM

Bless you, Doctor. Another excellent essay.

Mason on June 8, 2010 at 10:44 PM

DOc, your threads are gold.

hawkdriver on June 8, 2010 at 10:49 PM

Doc, your threads are gold.

hawkdriver on June 8, 2010 at 10:49 PM

Not Gold, Platinum!

Who is John Galt on June 8, 2010 at 10:55 PM

Helen Thomas served a useful purpose for the rats . She could hurl the most vicious invectives and make the accusations lame streamers wanted to bait with but couldn’t . She slammed repugnicans for the rats and the repugnicans , but for Tony Snow , may he rest in peace , acted like they deserved it .

borntoraisehogs on June 8, 2010 at 11:47 PM

A portion of the blame lies with every Administration – Democrat, Republican, and Whig – which tolerated her presence

Laugh
Out
Loud!

itsnotaboutme on June 9, 2010 at 12:14 AM

Doc, I have an itch only you can scratch. I hope you look as good as you write.

leftnomore on June 9, 2010 at 1:39 AM

A portion of the blame lies with every Administration – Democrat, Republican, and Whig

Ouch and LOL.

she’s lebanese

she has an ethnic allegiance.

it trumps her citizenship under the US of A

blatantblue on June 8, 2010 at 10:17 PM

Brigitte Gabriel is Lebanese also. Enough said.

I also happen to be of the same Kenyan tribe that the Worst POTUS ever claims. Enough said also.

baldilocks on June 9, 2010 at 3:58 AM

Excellent post, as usual

badpenny on June 9, 2010 at 8:46 AM

The press has an important job to do. They are in reality the keeper of the keys for our freedom. The lackadaisical job they have done on vetting Obama, not covering his radical agenda, selling his agenda, smearing his opponents is what can sell our nation down the tubes. The public needs unbiased information about FACTS–nothing else, no rosy scenarios, no BS—just facts. Helen Thomas was and is an abject and total failure. Their embrace of her is a large neon sign saying “We have failed in the job assigned to us by the Founding Fathers and have done a disservice to the world.”

Herb on June 9, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Brilliant as usual Dr Z. But how about: No Country for Old Doyennes?

RMR on June 9, 2010 at 9:27 AM

Brilliant column Doctor Zero. I am sending it to all my friends.

Hilts on June 9, 2010 at 11:43 AM

What purpose was served by allowing Helen Thomas to squat in one of those precious seats like Jabba the Hutt’s nasty little imp, hooting and screaming incomprehensible insults at everyone who got tossed into the monster pit?

That is just brilliantly hilarious imagry.

Heralder on June 8, 2010 at 9:09 AM

+1

logis on June 9, 2010 at 1:55 PM