Jonathan Chait is no freind of George Bush, so his critique of Helen Thomas, almost inevitably called the "doyenne" of the White House press corps, is all the more serious. Writing in the New Republic ($link), he notes her rise to rock star status among the Left.
...Helen Thomas of the liberal imagination is, alas, a largely mythical creation——and a convenient one for the administration she supposedly terrorizes. To begin with, she is a bizarre choice for heir to the liberal muckraking tradition.... Thomas bears little resemblance to journalistic crusaders like Murrow, Stone, and Anderson. [....]
Thomas made her name, in other words, simply by staying in the same gruntwork job far longer than any of her colleagues could bear. She started on the beat in 1960; stories describing her as the dean of the White House press corps can be found as early as 1979. At some point, through sheer force of longevity, she became etched into the Washington landscape. If you made a movie about the White House, you needed a Helen Thomas cameo. [....]
The odd thing about her awards and citations is that they almost never mention any specific contributions she has made to journalism save for being female and, well, old. The usual path to journalistic fame, other than appearing regularly on television, is to break a major story——Ida Tarbell and Standard Oil, Bob Woodward and Watergate, et cetera. But Thomas has no connection to any such body of work. She has never had a big scoop or been a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. Indeed, of the many people who recognize Helen Thomas, it's unlikely that one in 100 can recall a single article she has ever written.
But Chait, the man whose aversion to Bush resulted in the neo—logism "Chaitred" sees a sinister aspect:
Thomas's relationship with the Bush administration, in other words, is a symbiotic one, in which both sides have an incentive to play up her role——she, so that she can posture as a crusading icon; they, so they can smear the entire press corps as ideologically biased.
At least he doesn't invoke the name of Karl Rove and claim that she is a plant.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky
Thomas Lifson 8 01 06