Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Ari Fleischer's Revenge on Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas' comments on Israel and Palestine were highly questionable, but it appears our old friend Ari Fleischer has at last gotten his revenge for several years of having to fend off her tough questions. Revenge - a dish best served on red-hot news days.

ari versus helen

Listening to Helen Thomas, I can't help but remember when Bill Maher got in hot water over comments he made on his show, "Politically Incorrect." How could I not, when Ari Fleischer inserted himself into both controversies?

Ari then, as White House Press Secretary: "These are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say and what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that. There never is."

Ari now, as, well, former White House Press Secretary (and sports marketer): "She should lose her job over this. As someone who is Jewish, and as someone who worked with her and used to like her, I find this appalling. She is advocating religious cleansing. How can Hearst stand by her? If a journalist, or a columnist, said the same thing about blacks or Hispanics, they would already have lost their jobs."

Ari apparently felt so strongly about this that he spent the weekend emailing other journalists to get them onto the story. Nice to see his liking of her precluded a phone call to ask what the heck she was thinking, or, more charitably, what she meant!

The results were both similar. Bill Maher tried to explain his comments, but his talk show was not renewed, and he found himself out of a job. Meanwhile, Helen Thomas tried to explain hers, but was dropped by just about everyone, and had to retire before she was shoved out.

My initial reaction was that this was why you shouldn't pipe up about a contentious issue while you're drunk, bereaved, or ticked off. I thought perhaps she was venting in the wake of Israel's murderous handling of the blockade-breaking flotilla situation, and made the mistake of doing so in front of a camera. It wouldn't be the first time the mighty have been brought low by an off-color comment that went on the record.

But then I found out that I was wrong - she was just early to the party.

These comments were made on the 27th of May, at the Jewish Heritage celebration at the White House. They just didn't surface until the 4th of June, after the attack on the flotilla, when critics of Israel - both Judeophobic and otherwise - had taken several days to go after the Jewish state, and its politicians were finally joining its apologists in telling the rest of the world to shut up and mind its own business.

One might almost say this was neatly choreographed. Long-time foe of Ari Fleischer says something dumb - and it WAS dumb, to be charitable - about Israel and Palestine. Then, by some stroke of "luck," Israel does something dumb - and that's putting it mildly - and gets itself in the news for the wrong reasons again.

And in the middle, there's Helen Thomas and the turd she left floating on the youtube bowl. And there's Ari, with a fresh video, a working email account, and a black book filled with names from his old job...

How could Ari not pounce? This was probably the moment he'd been praying for since he'd left the White House. At last, revenge for all those years of having to stand there as Helen Thomas, one of the most tenacious reporters out of the whole White House Press Pool, eviscerated both he and his boss on a regular basis, whether they tried to answer his questions or not! It must have seemed like manna out of Heaven, or at least a floating dagger following a hated "guest" up the castle steps.

So yes, Ari Fleischer has clearly gotten his revenge. It would be interesting to see through timespace and determine if, minus his involvement, the weight of Helen Thomas' comments would have sunk her career, or if this would have been just another questionable statement about Israel in a career full of them. One never knows.

But I am reasonably assured that, even into his twilight years, Mr. Fleischer will probably be eating out on how he finally got one over on that lady in the front row who, for good or ill, spoke her mind and kept asking questions. It's a shame that, for all her time trying to entrap others into unwittingly telling us how they really felt, she let one truth too many leave her lips, and at the worst possible time.

It's also a shame that Pat Buchanan, Michael Savage, Anne Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck still have jobs with major media outlets, in spite of the numerous potential career-enders they've racked up over the years. What's good for the goose...

Meanwhile, Ari's advice is still in effect: watch what you say, because you never know who's listening, who's recording, and who's going to rub their hands in glee for having finally got you in a "gotcha" moment - especially when the news changes. Helen Thomas really should have known better.


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