Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably seen the video of veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas, the backlash from which resulted in her retirement Monday. But it was the announcement over the weekend that she was being dropped by her agency that triggered a Thomas memory for me.
Back in August 2007, I saw Thomas speak in Virginia Beach. I managed to speak with her for a few minutes afterwards and, as I’m prone to do, asked for a copy of her prepared remarks. Accompanying her that day was Diane Nine, president of Nine Speakers, Inc. Ms. Nine gave me her business card and I emailed her a few days later. Instead of a copy of the remarks, I was asked for a few questions for Thomas to answer, which I promptly sent. About two months later, I followed up and was told that Thomas was had been very busy and had not had time to answer my questions. It was unfortunate, because, of course, I had some great questions.
Thomas has had a front row seat to history, having covered so many presidents. During the speech that I witnessed, she mentioned how her favorite president was John F. Kennedy and how George Bush never called on her. It was spell-binding. It was that image – so different from the one I saw in the video – that I had etched in my mind.
I tend to give the elderly a pass when it comes to certain issues. I recognize that they grew up in a time that is far different from now. But I never expected that someone as worldly as Thomas to have made the statements – publicly, that is – that she made. It is a shame that she is going out like this.
But it should serve as a reminder to all of us to be vigilant in trying to eradicate the latent racism and anti-Semitism that exists in our society.