Thursday, June 10, 2010
Helen Thomas interview with Vice magazine
This interview with Helen Thomas was conducted in March. We were holding it for an upcoming issue of Vice magazine, but in light of what’s going on with her now, we’ve decided to run it online today.
Vice: When I watched you at press conferences during the George W. Bush years, you seemed pretty disgusted with your fellow journalists.
Helen Thomas: In the run-up to the Iraq War, no one asked for proof of weapons of mass destruction. It was very, very clear that President Bush wanted to go to war at any cost. And he would not go back to the UN and allow them three more months to look and see if it was really true. We went to war on lies. I think 9-11 was definitely used to terrorize the people away from taking any stand against the government, because they felt it was a real crisis and I guess they—halfway at least—believed the government. Using terrorists is a very effective propaganda weapon.
Is it just me or did the mainstream press seem particularly flabby after 9-11?
They were afraid of not being considered real patriots, and I’m sure the big communications corporations got orders from on high. So they played ball.
In your decades at the White House have you witnessed this kind of complacency before?
Well, the Watergate scandal was the turning point in the White House in modern times. We took all the [Nixon administration’s] denials, and when they turned out to be absolutely wrong, when it turned out to be disinformation, it made reporters much more wary in that brief interval that followed. But of course 9-11 made everyone into a prime citizen again, and afraid to ask. The Pentagon was also very effective in propagandizing, as was the State Department, as was the White House. So, again, I think that journalists became afraid to be called unpatriotic if they didn’t support a war, even one that was obviously not true.
You were surprised by this?
I certainly thought, after the Watergate scandal and all the lies, that reporters had awakened. And they did for awhile, a very short time. But the government always prevails, because there’s always the feeling that we should believe what the government says. Even though I thought they didn’t have any credibility, people did go along. The reporters were very gung-ho about going to war. It was going to be two weeks. Everybody was going to be there a short time, come home, and live happily ever after. It’s been seven years now.
I notice that you’re the only White House reporter that questions why an event has occurred. You did it several times regarding 9-11.
That’s the reason we’re so easily led down the garden path—nobody’s asking “why?” The question “why?” should always be there. What is the reason this other government or these people would do this to us? But I had the impression that throughout the whole country, truth took a holiday. There’s been very little search for truth, except for a few people who have spoken out.
When you were sitting just a few feet in front of him at news conferences, could you tell that Bush was lying?
Not really. But you could tell by the answers there was no real answer that he wanted to tell you. Why did we go to war? “9-11.” Well, there were no Iraqis involved, and so forth. To this moment we have not heard why we went in. There’s been all of the speculation—daddy, oil, Israel, whatever—but still nobody has spoken the truth from the government’s side.
Read the rest here.