Monday, June 7, 2010

A Sad Ending

I'm sure that veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas never dreamed she'd go out this way.

Over the years, Helen was a journalistic role model and a favorite person. She was characteristically feisty in her watchdog role, no matter which party was in power. She had a great sense of humor and was never afraid to skewer her own importance. An NPR special about how she broke down barriers in the early years of female reporters was an inspiration.

More than a decade ago, I saw her lecture at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. About one-third of the way into her talk, she began rustling papers at the podium, then shuffling them around fiercely. A few moments later, as her speech turned disjointed and a little odd, I realized she had mixed up her pages and was reading them out of order.

Ever the pro, she soldiered on, never letting on that she was flustered. And the speech, full of funny anecdotes and interesting memories, worked even though it was a little jumbled up.

I always say that I'll keep on writing and working as long as I'm able to put fingers to keyboard. But Helen's situation makes me wonder if that's a good idea. I think many people get to a certain age and they feel they've earned the right to say whatever comes to mind, politically incorrect or not.

That bluntness got the better of Helen Thomas, finally, and I'm sorry for it. I hope some friends give her the retirement party she deserves.


  1. Interesting take. I found myself wondering if it was age-related as well--

  2. Heck, 10 years ago I thought the speech mix-up was age-related, so who knows? All I can say is I'm getting pretty cranky and outspoken and I'm half her age. I can't imagine what a PITA I will be if I make it anywhere near 90!

    Here's a column that sums up my thoughts on the matter:

  3. The comment is so bizarre, obviously it's not Helen Thomas at the top or anywhere near the top of her game. Hope they give the old broad a break; she's certainly enlivened press conferences for me over the years.