Published: mic (July 20, 2013)
How does an American political historian cope with the death of Helen Thomas?
She was a pioneer for female journalists, an old-fashioned shoe-leather reporter, an astute observer of Washington’s grimy, smarmy underbelly who had personally interrogated every president since John F. Kennedy. When Stephen Colbert used the third act of his legendary 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech to pay her a tongue-in-cheek tribute, few in the press corps doubted that the honor was well deserved. Thomas embodied the best tradition of newsroom skepticism, the school of thought that continued to live by H. L. Mencken’s undeniable aphorism, “The only way for a reporter to look at a politician is down.”