"You might incur some wrath from the powers that be, but so what?" — Helen Thomas
Helen Thomas has had the unique experience of covering every president since JFK from the front row of the Beltway press corps. She began the tradition of ending each presidential press conferences with a signature "Thank you, Mr. President." Fittingly, this is the title of a documentary about her career that will premiere on HBO tonight.
Thomas first came to my attention as that feisty lady asking President Bush some seriously tough questions about the war in Iraq. I also fondly remember her participation in the controversial Stephen Colbert bit at the 2006 White House Correspondence dinner in which he jokingly referred to her as "Doubting Thomas."
When I heard HBO and Rory Kennedy (daughter of Bobby Kennedy) were doing a documentary on her life, I pried the screener DVD from my friend Citizen's hands (though she later asked me for my take) and hunkered down to learn about being a woman in a male-dominated field, how the heck she earned that position in the first place, the toughest questions she ever asked a president, her perspective on journalism today, etc. To see what I thought of the doc and to view a trailer,
Well, what I got was a bit unexpected: a cheery 40-minute tribute-ish program that is definitely entertaining but far too shallow for my tastes. It left me wanting more, and got me thinking. . .doesn't a woman of this stature and with this much experience deserve a longer, more in-depth documentary devoted to her? I think so.
But if you've also been intrigued by Helen Thomas over the years, tonight's documentary will definitely make you smile, even though you might want for more.