It would never occur to me to mention Helen Thomas and Ann Coulter in the same sentence. Helen is a fine well respected White House reporter who, over the span of her career was not only the “first woman” in so many categories, but also defied the system as the “best” in an equal number of places. Ann Coulter, on the other hand, is blonde. OK she is also a liar and a slut. “But Iris how do you really feel about her?” You ask. Well, quite simply she is a liar, an ultra conservative ideologue and a media whore. Now, while there’s nothing wrong with being a whore, there is certainly something wrong with being a person who profits by pretending to have real concerns while in fact they say has nothing to do with ideals — it is simply a marketing ploy. They play to the worst in a constituency that fears difference in opinion. They have no principles, moral core, or worst of all, factual information. Anyway, Ann was quoted as saying that Helen was an "old Arab" who doesn't belong "within yards of the President." Yes it is racist and shameful but why did she say it? Was she trying to warn the Secret Service about impending danger to the President? Does she hate Arabs? Is she afraid of old people? No, I don’t think so. She was trying to get attention—sell more books, make more appearances, get another radio show—by saying something ugly enough to get attention. I bet her mother took her pacifier away before it was the right time… do I want to say something about sucking? No, I don’t think it’s necessary.
Back to the point. Helen was interviewed by Amy Goodman at the 92nd St. Y. It’s a wonderful venue for interesting people. Amy is a liberal journalist who rather than really ask Helen questions about the White House media, tried to make a speech and some points about the Administration. It didn’t work. Helen is a journalist, not a columnist. She refused to get involved in discussing policy or whether the President should be impeached. She just talked about respect for the Presidency and the truth. Yes, she wondered why we were in Iraq and she also wondered why the White House Press Corps doesn’t ask the questions they should. But she didn’t whine about her treatment in this White House – she is relegated to the back of the room and hardly ever recognized at press conferences – because she asks tough questions. She is the antithesis of Ann Coulter. She is a woman who struggled to get professional recognition and used the humor, brains, and the truth, as her weapons.
The truth is a funny thing. A few years ago I was having a conversation with the woman most responsible for title IX. If you don’t know what that is you need to look it up or stop reading this blob. Suffice to say, it has provided women with enormous opportunity and not only in sports. We were meeting because she was frustrated by her public appearances with women who were opposed to Title IX, and she wanted to know what she could do to be more effective.
“They just lie.” She said. “They quote facts that can’t be substantiated and they make up statistics. They don’t care about telling the public the truth.”
I suggested that while lying was not ever a good thing, we were always so concerned about being factual and truthful that our message was lost in too many words. We needed to make our points without arguing truth and fiction. But lies are very powerful and while we should never lie, we needed to find more interesting ways to tell the truth.
What have we come to as a people when the Ann Coulters of the world are considered in the same journalistic categories as the Helen Thomases. When the Ann Coulters profit by providing a cover for the lies of an administration or a political party. What are we thinking when we allow racists who claim to be journalists to be called anything other then Liar. They should be allowed to have an opinion and to speak but they should never be treated as other than stand-up comics. Helen Thomas, like an attractive truth is one of the great media hero’s. And that’s the truth. Hooray for Helen. We’re just sayin…