It is day four of the Helen Thomas saga. The 89-year-old White House doyen, adored by Washington’s liberal mainstream media, told a Jewish rabbi in a video that Jews must “get the hell out of Palestine” and must “go home” to Germany and Poland.
The issue has been raging since Thomas’ ugly comments were released on Friday by RabbiLive.com. Ironically, Thomas made her remarks at a White House Jewish Heritage Month observance.
Meanwhile, over at the Washington Post, there is near silence. As of the this writing, searching “Helen Thomas site:washingtonpost.com” on Google brings up two articles on Thomas being dropped as a commencement speaker at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, a Howard Kurtz piece mentioning her remarks, and a post debating if Hearst will drop Thomas as a journalist.
Otherwise, the Post, which prides itself since the days of Watergate as being the “political” paper of record, is dark. There’s no initial report on Thomas’ remarks, which given her stature as a near household name, particularly inside the Beltway, are certainly newsworthy. In that regard, this is much like the legacy media covering the fallout of the Swift Boat Vets in 2004 on the op-ed pages, without actually reporting their remarks in the news section first. (And then making the group’s name a pejorative slur, rather than researching or repeating their actual claims.)
Or the L.A. Times’ “Keep Rockin” moment to avoid reporting on John Edwards’ affair.
But while the Post keeps rockin’, Thomas has been denounced by former Clinton apologist Lanny Davis. Her speaking agency, Nine Speakers, has dumped her. Ari Fleisher, former White House press secretary, says she is calling for “religious cleansing” and that she ought to be fired by her bosses at Hearst Newspapers.
At PJTV there is a survey about whether the White House should pull her press credentials. Independently, there is an online campaign underway to force the White House to revoke her White House press credentials. Jewish leaders are denouncing the Lebanese-American journalist as the hours tick by.
In the tempo of Washington life, this constitutes three full news cycles of the Helen Thomas story.
The paper’s comparative silence is in contrast with the incendiary anti-Israel coverage of the past week, in which the Post published wall-to-wall coverage of the “peace” flotilla.
As anti-Semitism boiled globally, the Post both aided and abetted the frenzy, but then went silent when anti-Semitism reared its head with a beloved liberal columnist in a liberal town.
Silence, sometimes, is golden. But silence also can be ominous. In the case of D.C., silence from the leading national newspaper in the nation’s capital sends a message to other political and journalistic elites. Sure the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the rest of the MSM are no better in their coverage of the Middle East. But when the Washington Post ignores a story, it is tacit code to the hundreds of bureaus here in town: “you too can ignore this.” Pack journalists take note and move on to other stories.