Segments in this Video

Thank You Mr. President: Introduction (02:41)


Helen Thomas reminisces about George W. Bush blacklisting her from press conferences. She reported with the White House Press Corps over nine different administrations. She discusses how presidents deserve to be questioned and to jump on any opportunity. (Credits)

Thomas' Early Life and Career (02:56)

Born to Immigrants from Syria who couldn't read or write, Thomas started asking questions at a young age. She began covering the White House in the 1960's campaign of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Reporting On Clinton (02:12)

The conservative right constantly hounded and criticized Bill Clinton. Thomas recalls the Monica Lewinsky story.

Thomas in Action (01:57)

Thomas was the first woman to open and close a press conference. Press conferences were limited to a half hour. She does not think of herself as successful, rather as possessing a lot of stamina.

Presidents Used to Be More Accessible (03:01)

Thomas recalls refusing to use a word if it seemed biased. She joined UPI in 1943; the competition between them and AP was fierce. Press conferences are the only place where a president is openly questioned.

Reporting on Johnson (02:36)

Thomas recalls working at the White house during President Johnson's administration. She recalls a story her husband wrote about Johnson which enraged dog lovers across the country.

Landing a Story (03:29)

When her husband retired from the press corps, Pat Nixon exposed Doug Cornell and Thomas' relationship. Reagan came off as distant— the press never really knew him.

Bush Never Allowed Follow-ups (02:32)

If called upon, reporters should ask a follow-up question on important issues. Thomas recalls blindsiding President Bush at a press conference a few weeks into his first term.

Talking to the President (02:21)

Thomas feels like a fraud each time she sees herself in a photograph with a president. Watch a clip from the Washington Press Corps annual dinner where Thomas dresses up like Ferraro. President Clinton once gave her a birthday cake and she asked for a press conference.

"I Am Not A Crook" (03:42)

When President Nixon congratulated Thomas on receiving a promotion, she asked him a pointed question about Watergate. Her relationship with Nixon became strained; she reminisces about his resignation.

Character of a President (02:27)

Gerald Ford restored confidence in the oval office. When he pardoned Nixon, people started to believe there was an unspoken deal between the two. Jimmy Carter made human rights tantamount to foreign policy and the Iran hostage crisis hurt his re-election campaign.

"Bush is the Worst President Ever" (02:55)

President Bush loved the photographers but hated the press. After Reverend Moon bought UPI, Thomas quit the newspaper and started writing a column for Hearst. She came under fire for her comments about Iraq.

September 11 Attacks (02:55)

After 9/11, the press failed to scrutinize Bush's motivations. To this day, the American public does not know why the country went to war with Iraq. Thomas explains that a democracy only succeeds if the public is educated and informed about their government.

Credits: Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House (01:56)

Credits: Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House

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Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House

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Directed by award-winning filmmaker Rory Kennedy, Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House profiles the iconic journalist, a legend in political reporting, who has covered the White House and every president since John F. Kennedy. In this 38-minute film, Thomas, now in her 80s and as sharp as ever, sits down for a one-on-one interview in which she reflects on her storied career, the distinct personalities and foibles of the presidents she has covered, as well as some of the scandals that have rocked the White House over the years. Supplemented by clips of Thomas in action, plus archival photos and footage, the film offers a rare glimpse of a veteran member of the White House Press Corps, who was one of only a handful of female correspondents when she began covering the presidency in the 1960s. Idolized by many and despised by some, Thomas is without a doubt a determined and steadfast journalist, who maintains the utmost respect for the office of the presidency, while knowing it is her job to ask the tough questions. An HBO Production. 

Length: 38 minutes

Item#: BVL115033

Copyright date: ©2008

Closed Captioned

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