Helen Thomas 'Miffed' at Doonesbury, Wanted to Be Rumored as 'JFK's Lover'

Helen Thomas, the Hearst columnist and long-time scourge of Republican presidents as UPI White House correspondent, was "miffed" at Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau because he joked that the rumors were that she was Harry Truman's lover: "I wished he said I was Jack Kennedy's lover."

If that makes Thomas sound like a liberated woman, that would be in line with her recent Planned Parenthood luncheon speech in Iowa, where she claimed conservatives would love to deny women even their right to vote: "It seems now, more than ever, the Supreme Court is prepared to put Americans -- especially women -- back in the 19th century if not earlier...Women, in particular, have to be more vigilant. They can never let go and think that the battle is won. There has been a chipping-away at every advance we've had. Pretty soon they'll be taking aim at the vote."

Here's Daphne Retter's Doonesbury item in the D.C. newspaper The Hill:

Longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas is miffed at Garry Trudeau after he portrayed her as one tough broad in his Doonesbury cartoon strip last week.

But it’s not because he depicted the dean of the White House press corps telling self-important TV correspondent Roland Hedley to "Get the hell out of my face" when he brought two visitors to meet her in the White House briefing room.

No, it was because Hedley told the visitors the "legendary UPI reporter [has] been here since the Truman administration! Some say she was Truman’s lover."

Truman’s lover? Puh-lease. Thomas likes to think she could do better than that.

"I wish he’d said I was Jack Kennedy’s lover," said Thomas, who began covering the White House when President Kennedy took office in January, 1961.

Thomas, who will celebrate her 87th birthday next month, left UPI in 2000 and now writes a syndicated column for Hearst Newspapers.

And here is Lynda Waddington's blog post on the Thomas speech for Planned Parenthood, sounding dead serious about the coming attack on female suffrage, and expressing hope about Speaker Pelosi, and perhaps next, President Hillary:

The more than 300 people crowded into the small banquet room at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, many of them standing, grew silent as Thomas outlined her thoughts on the battles to come.

"It seems now, more than ever, the Supreme Court is prepared to put Americans -- especially women -- back in the 19th century if not earlier," she said. "Women, in particular, have to be more vigilant. They can never let go and think that the battle is won. There has been a chipping-away at every advance we've had. Pretty soon they'll be taking aim at the vote."

Her final sentence provided a quick and nervous laugh from the audience. Thomas looked around the room, meeting many women eye-to-eye before continuing.

"Women have come a long way," she said. "Now we have the possibility of the presidency, and a woman already serves as speaker of the House. Two women have served in the powerful role of secretary of State. There is no doubt that we have come a long way, but we have not come far enough."

In a private interview after her public remarks, Thomas continued her thoughts on the role she believes women must play in the coming years and on the imminent threat of the Supreme Court.

"I don't think we have passed a point of no return -- I don't think we will ever do that," she said. "I think women should be alerted to the possibility of what may come. Women should not rest on their laurels. They need to understand the danger of this court. This is a deliberate court. It is very rigid, and it is going to be against a lot of women's rights in terms of equal pay, birth control, abortion or anything else where women are striving for equality. The justices were deliberately picked because of that. I think the litmus test was given to them even though they denied it."

Thomas also admits that when she was originally told the conservatives' plans for the court, she didn't fully understand the implications.

"People were saying during the [Ronald] Reagan administration that this was about the Supreme Court," she said. "I wasn't sure at that time what they meant. But the truth is that the court is their one last resort to push their agenda. It is their one last resort to prevail."

By the way, don't think Thomas is anti-cartoonist. Editor & Publisher noticed that she recently suggested they were the only real journalists left:

The King Features Syndicate columnist and former UPI White House correspondent didn't spare the media, either. "I do believe journalists have let the country down," said Thomas, who was addressing Association of American Editorial Cartoonists conference attendees Thursday night. "They were cowed, and afraid to be called unpatriotic. The real journalists are the editorial cartoonists who don't fear the truth."

Describing the Bush administration, Thomas said it's "running on empty and heading for collapse." She added that the "invasion and occupation of Iraq -- which didn't attack us -- was illegal, immoral, and unconscionable. George W. Bush struck a match inflaming the whole Mideast, and no one has laid a glove on bin Laden."

Thomas also blasted secret overseas prison sites and Guantanamo, noting: "Detainees have been denied the right to appeal -- a right that only goes back to the Magna Carta." One result? "The U.S. is now the most despised nation in the world," she said.

 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis