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White House: 'Of course we love Helen Thomas'
Ron Brynaert
Published: Tuesday February 27, 2007
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A conservative reporter mockingly stuck up for longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas at Tuesday's press briefing, leaving Press Secretary Tony Snow to joke that "of course we love" her.

Les Kinsolving, the White House correspondent for World Net Daily, referred to a report on CNN which "featured the president of the White House Correspondents Association saying of Helen Thomas: 'We love her, and we'll take care of her.'"

"But CNN also reported that in order to accommodate one more network in row one, Helen, our senior-to-all colleague, is to be relegated to row two when we move back into the White House press room," Kinsolving continued.

Kinsolving's questions were received by wide laughter by the press, and even Thomas played along.

"And my question: Assuming that CNN is accurate, how can you allow this dean of our corps, senior veteran and undeniably colorful character to be backseated as has been done to her at presidential press conferences?" Kinsolving asked Snow. "And what does this say about Bush-Snow treatment of senior citizens, who wonder how you and the president can allow a network such ageist favoritism over a veteran?"

As Snow stumbled for an answer, Thomas said, "I would never think of his questions in a million years."

"Number one, of course we love Helen," Snow responded. "Number two, the White House does not make decisions about where people sit, so you can address that to the Correspondents' Association. And number three, regardless of the seating arrangement, you'll still be looking at the back of her head."

Kinsolving pressed on, "Why do you allow this? Why do you and the president allow this discrimination against a senior citizen, who is our senior reporter?"

"I don't need a defender," Thomas joshed back. "Thank you very much."

Kinsolving, who is known for sometimes asking off-beat questions that Snow often either laughs away or passes on, also asked the White House press secretary about Bush's thoughts on the documentary produced by Academy Award winning filmmaker James Cameron which purports to show the tomb of Jesus.

"The president is well known to be a devout Christian, so I presume you will not evade the question," Kinsolving said to Snow. "How does he feel about the Titanic director's claim of discovering the allegedly permanent burial site of the Gospel-reported resurrected Christ together with alleged Jesus' wife and son?"

The White House secretary shot back, "I hope that you will not consider this un-Christian of me, Les, but I am sure that he probably has not spent a moment thinking about that."

Excerpts from White House briefing:

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Snow: Les?

Kinsolving: Yes. Tony, thank you. Two questions. The president is well known to be a devout Christian, so I presume you will not evade the question. How does he feel about the Titanic director's claim of discovering the allegedly permanent burial site of the Gospel-reported resurrected Christ together with alleged Jesus' wife and son?

Snow: I hope that you will not consider this un-Christian of me, Les, but I am sure that he probably has not spent a moment thinking about that.

Kinsolving: Okay. Second. Last night CNN featured the president of the White House Correspondents Association saying of Helen Thomas: We love her, and we'll take care of her.

But CNN also reported that in order to accommodate one more network in row one, Helen, our senior-to-all colleague, is to be relegated to row two when we move back into the White House press room. And my question: Assuming that CNN is accurate, how can you allow this dean of our corps, senior veteran and undeniably colorful character to be backseated as has been done to her at presidential press conferences? (Laughter.) And what does this say about Bush-Snow treatment of senior citizens, who wonder how you and the president can allow a network such ageist favoritism over a veteran?

Snow: Okay, good. Well, let me -- this is about --

Thomas: I would never think of his questions in a million years.

Snow: This is about a thousand-part question, so let me parse it, Les.

Kinsolving Okay.

Snow: Number one, of course we love Helen. Number two, the White House does not make decisions about where people sit, so you can address that to the Correspondents' Association. And number three, regardless of the seating arrangement, you'll still be looking at the back of her head. (Laughter, cross talk.)

Kinsolving: Why do you allow this? Why do you and the president allow this discrimination against a senior citizen, who is our senior reporter?

Thomas: I don't need a defender. Thank you very much. (Laughter.)

Snow: I'm afraid you need to confront Steve Scully in the hallway. That's -- (laughter) --

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FULL TRANSCRIPT AT WHITEHOUSE.GOV