Helen Thomas is the kind of gal who probably inspired all of those phrases like "tough as nails," and a "real kick in the patoot," to name a couple. Thomas has covered every president since JFK and is known as the "First Lady of the Press." On HBO tonight, the journalist sits down to recount her life in the documentary, Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House.
As only one of a handful of women in the press corps when she started, she's long commanded a front row seat to the proceedings for more than six decades, not cutting anyone any slack. She says, "I think that presidents deserve to be questioned, perhaps irreverently, to bring them down a size." Buzz previewed the flick for us and answered a few questions about the Grand Dame of the press conference.
To see what she had to say,
Citizen: How cozy is the press covering the administration with the subject of their scrutiny? Are they pals as well as adversaries?
Buzz: The documentary, via Helen’s life and career, hits on the unique relationship between the press who were on “the body watch” as she called it (covering the president’s every move) and the administration. I guess you sort of hear about this all the time but a lot of the documentary has footage of the Washington press corp yucking it up with the president, including Helen. It just struck me as incongruous with being a hard-hitting news reporter asking tough questions to the most powerful leader on the planet, but I guess that’s how it works in the Beltway? That footage alone and that look into the press that way I found extremely fascinating and wish they would have spent some more time on that. Or maybe that’s a whole other documentary.
Citizen: Jezebel said the doc was suited for a funeral. Say it ain't so!:
Buzz: Yeah I’d agree. Related to what I said above, the piece hits on so many fascinating aspects of her life including being the only woman in such a male-dominated field at the time, what has shaped her passionate views toward the current administration, and the idea of her responsibility as a journalist on “the body watch” vs. investigative journalism — I wish there was more time on a serious exploration of all this with her. As it is, it’s kind of a soft, cheery tribute to the woman. Which, you know, is nice but now I feel like I need to go find a book about her.
Buzz bottom line: Definitely worth the time to check out for sheer entertainment — how could it not be? The woman is hilariously candid and self-deprecating. Plus, even though it’s not the deepest delve into her life and times, it will get your brain juices flowing.
Buzz has the trailer for a bigger taste. Are you planning to watch tonight?