Sunday, July 20, 2008

First Lady of American Journalism

On August 1, Helen Thomas will be entering her 89th year -- the past 65 of them as a reporter and the past 48 of them as a White House correspondent. She was seriously ill recently, but is now on the mend and should be back tormenting President Bush in his final days and whoever is "lucky" enough to face her questions starting next Jan. 20.

I broke in on the national desk of United Press International working the 11p-7a shift, "overnight rewrite," which meant handling her copy for the coming day's afternoon newspapers. There are few, if any, afternoon papers anymore, and there will be no reporters like Helen anymore, either. Eventually, I joined her on the wire service's White House team and got to know her pretty well -- warts and all. There weren't many of those, either.

A recent interview with her on Australian TV just came to my attention, and it was by far the best such q-and-a with her I have seen. Here is the transcript and two clips.

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