I don’t want to stoop to Bill O’Reilly’s level, but after he went on his Helen Thomas mock-fest this week, I think I might have to start. With a Democrat back in the White House, Helen Thomas got promoted back to her front row status, after being demoted to the back of the room in the Bush administration. Thomas had her moment, in her trademark style, and got in the final question.
Afterwards, in a few short seconds, O’Reilly managed to insult Thomas the journalist, Thomas the woman, Thomas the senior citizen, Thomas’ clothes AND mothers in general! If he’d gone on talking for a little longer, I’m sure he could have found a way to work in her make-up and asked whether she wore army boots.
Wicked Witch of the East? Lincoln? Old lady?
Seriously, what is wrong with this man? Or, a better question is this — what is wrong with men who claim to be pundits and journalists and their constant sexist references as their default way to criticize women? You know, Bill (and all the others), if you want to criticize Helen or any of the rest of us on our journalistic abilities or how we’ve done our jobs, we can take it. There’s really no need to pull out the “your mother dresses you funny” card.
If O’Reilly is going to go down the “Helen Thomas is too old to do her job or to be taken seriously” road, I have to ask — would he say the same thing about someone like Daniel Schorr?
Helen is 89. Schorr is 93. They both have amazingly long lists of journalistic accomplishments. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to guess that if Dan Schorr had been at that news conference and had asked the same question, any reviews of his performance would not have focused on his nonagenarian appearance or whether he ought to be put out to pasture, the way O’Reilly did with Thomas.
The Helen Thomas rap by those Fox News guys is all about trying to keep women in “their place” — do your job, be accomplished, and keep plugging no matter your age, appearance or wrinkle status, and we’ll find a way to try to beat you back.
This is exactly what the bullies did when I was elementary school. This is exactly what the boy bullies are doing to some third-graders in PunditGirl’s class this year. The only difference is that when bullies grow up and someone puts them on television, our daughters get the message that bullies will continue to get the last word in, no matter how old they are.
I’m not worried about Helen. In a grudge match, I’m pretty sure she could take out O’Reilly with one pen tied behind her back! I bet she’s all fesity like that! But it’s not just about Helen — it’s about the rest of us and how our children see women portrayed by men on TV.
If you think O’Reilly should publicly apologize to Helen, stop by the Women’s Media Center site and sign the petition calling for him to sincerely say he’s sorry. I’m not holding my breath that O’Reilly has it in him, but we can try to make him feel a little shame, anyway. And if I knew where O’Reilly’s mother lived, I’d contact her and ask her to have a chat with her son about learning to respect his elders, especially women.
Or I suppose we could start our own mockfest of O’Reilly. No, it’s not the high road, but it might be the only kind of message he would get.
H/T to Jill at Writes Like She Talks for the video!