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109 of 114 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You tell'em, Helen!
Helen Thomas, the venerable grand dame of the White House Press embodies what it means to be a professional journalist. Page after page reveals her love of her profession and her disappointment in how it has evolved.

Having been a journalist for more than 60 years and as a member of the White House press corps since John F. Kennedy, she is waiting and hoping...
Published on June 24, 2006 by Edwin C. Pauzer

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent historical overview
Thomas's book is a good overview of the evolution of the Washington press corps and its relationships with various presidents since the 50s. Anyone who wants to gain insight on the current press corps' lapdog relationship with the Bush administration would do well to read this book.

And, contrary to what John R. Linnel would have you believe, the book is not a...
Published on August 27, 2006 by Douglas Herrschaft


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109 of 114 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You tell'em, Helen!, June 24, 2006
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Helen Thomas, the venerable grand dame of the White House Press embodies what it means to be a professional journalist. Page after page reveals her love of her profession and her disappointment in how it has evolved.

Having been a journalist for more than 60 years and as a member of the White House press corps since John F. Kennedy, she is waiting and hoping for a new generation of journalists to achieve the stature of an Edward R. Morrow or a Walter Cronkite--reporters who seek to report the truth and refuse to be cowed by intimidation.

In this short book, she provides numerous examples of press manipulation by the Bush administration and the acquiescence of a somnabulistic press corps that have become adminstration stenographers rather than investigators:

* President Bush's desire to be known as a war president even before the terrorist attack on 9/11.

* "No weapons. No ties to terrorists. No threats. No apologies. No explanations. No remorse. Under those circumstances, Americans were told they were fighting a war in Baghdad for liberty and democracy throughout the Middle East. Bush could shift the rationale in the blink of an eye with no apparent qualms."

* The Downing Street Memo which revealed that we were fixing the intelligence and the facts around policy so we could invade Iraq.

* Previously selected White House press with preplanned questions that the president knew of in advance of the actual press conference.

* White House Press being marched into the press room in columns of twos like they were school children.

* The Pentagon paid millions of dollars to plant positive stories of the American occupation in Iraqi newspapers.

* The administration paying actors to pose as reporters in fake video news promoting its Medicare prescription drug plan.

* Planting letters from veterans to their hometown newspapers until someone discovered the similarities in many of them.

* The Bush administration giving press credentials to James Dale Guckert a.k.a. Jeff Gannon, an auto mechanic and male prostitute. Gannon always asked questions with a false premise or one that knocked democrats in the actual question.

To these acts of lawbreaking and indiscretions, Ms. Thomas expresses displeasure with a press that found them unnewsworthy.

This is an excellent book to remind us of what we should expect and even demand more from our press. It is an excellent expose how conglomerates with singular points of view are buying the communications media to filter the news we receive. It reveals how newspapers and TV networks cave in to right wing pressure to fire reporters for telling the truth, or getting a network to withhold a story of Ronald Reagan because it was partially unflattering.

Helen's words are a siren song that illustrate how we are in danger of losing our most important freedom--our freedom of the press. We need bold leaders but an even bolder press. In the words of Edward R. Murrow whom Ms. Thomas quotes, "No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices."

Our indifference and acquiescence makes accomplices of us all.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent historical overview, August 27, 2006
Thomas's book is a good overview of the evolution of the Washington press corps and its relationships with various presidents since the 50s. Anyone who wants to gain insight on the current press corps' lapdog relationship with the Bush administration would do well to read this book.

And, contrary to what John R. Linnel would have you believe, the book is not a hysterical diatribe against the Bush administration. While Thomas is critical of Bush in places, she is an equal opportunity curmudgeon, lashing out mainly at what she sees as the dangerous abdication of the press of its central role as watchdog in a democratic society.

The book drags in places, but it's nice to have the voice of long experience to help give shape to one's view of an important democratic institution.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helen hits a home run, July 8, 2006
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It is something to be known as the "dean of the White House press corps" and Helen Thomas, more than anyone else, has been there and seen it all over a career that has lasted for decades. Now it is her turn to tell it all, and she does with dead-on accuracy. She's earned it.

Covering every president since JFK, Helen describes each one and the press secretaries with whom she has had to deal. Mincing no words, she reserves some of her harshest judgment for those in the press who fell asleep at the wheel after 9/11. For those of us who wondered who was asking the tough questions, Helen Thomas answers it....they weren't. While we know where the author stands with regard to the current administration she fleshes out her feelings about why this Washington crowd is the worst in years.

She spends some time toward the end of the book reflecting on journalists she admires and I was glad to see her include an acquaintance of mine, Pauline Frederick, whose job covering the United Nations was exemplary. Helen had other favorites, too.....Mary McGrory, Scotty Reston and Walter Cronkite, to name just a few others.

What is so good about "Watchdogs of Democracy?" is that is not just a collection of remembrances. Helen Thomas also paints a bleak future for "serious" journalism as we now have FOX News passing off as the real thing and a decline in the amount of time news organizations devote to non-entertainment news.

Helen Thomas has had a remarkable career and "Watchdogs of Democracy?" is a terrific journalistic addition for those of us who remember the days of the men and women she covered and wonder about the direction of journalism in the twenty-first century. I highly recommend her book for its wisdom and insight.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critique of the Presidents, August 13, 2006
By 
William D. Tompkins (New York, New York USA) - See all my reviews
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The strongest portion this book is the author's critique of each of the Presidents she covered from kennedy onward in terms of the relationship with the Press. Ms. Thomas pulls no punches and that is the strength of this book. You get the real deal from her and an understanding of why she was barred from the Press room by Bush Jr. for asking his administration t tough questions.
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98 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The corruption and decline of the press, June 9, 2006
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Ms. Thomas is a great lady, a national treasure, and one of the last incorruptible members of the fourth estate. In an exhaustive tour-de-force, she charts every aspect of the state of journalism, from plagiarism scandals, the repeal of the fairness doctrine, the major Supreme Court decisions, corporate media control, the criminal laxness on reporting the Iraq War to the current scripted infomercials of the Bush administration. Through her decades-long coverage of the White House, she details the war against the press by every president: but she reserves a special place for the sleazy practices of both Richard Nixon and George Bush. Her conclusion at every turn is that the current press is indeed failing America through cowardice, sloppiness, corporate bottom lines and pandering - they are forgetting that they occupy an essential place in our democracy, questioning those in power.
I have had the personal pleasure of meeting and talking with Ms. Thomas in an informal gathering, and she, not failed directors of the CIA, deserves a Medal of Freedom for her long and great service to truth -- pretty unthinkable from the current administration.
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74 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read!, June 5, 2006
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Helen Thomas has been the true "Watchdog of Democracy" -- covering every president since JFK. Her insights into how press coverage of the White House has changed and evolved (not always for the better) should be required reading for all voters, and students of history, political science and journalism. Written in an easy, conversational tone, it is informative, educational and fun! Republican, Democrat or Independent -- you won't be sorry you purchased this book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars right wing reviewers, September 5, 2006
Note that individuals such as John R. Linnell submit asinine ravings about politics, but do not review the text at hand. One wonders if they even read the book or (as is the habit of most alleged "conservatives") passed a knee-jerk judgment without the benefit of seeking any information on the subject being judged.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's going on in Washington DC?, May 12, 2007
By 
Carlyle Mallory (Chesapeake, OH USA) - See all my reviews
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The lady in the red suit scores again with this cogent comment on the Washington press corps. Ms. Thomas, who pitches hardball questions during press conferences if she is allowed to do so, has very coherently and successfully produced a well-reasoned text about why the press corps failed the American people by not investigating the shenanigans surrounding the present administration. This is a necessary read for journalism students and probably for those interested history and political science.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Troubling food for thought, August 24, 2009
By 
Teramis (San Francisco) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public (Paperback)
A chunk of this book is accolades to outstanding reporters and news peers of Thomas's, but most of it points out ways in which reporting has failed to be probing and questioning of authority, with a complete collapse of that function in the Bush years. Traces the history of how White House news has been increasingly managed and scripted over the last 4 or 5 decades, and how news has generally become more sanitized and shallow over that time. Troublesome food for thought, and a general wake-up call about asking hard questions and what it takes to be an informed public (or to inform the public). As a writer now dealing with news analysis I found this particularly helpful in thinking about the ethics and greater purpose of news-related writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than satisfied, July 10, 2010
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The book got to Brussels much sooner than I expected - there was a free bookmark inside (bonus!) and it was in perfect condition and a hard back - pretty certain it must have been old stock not sold and untouched. very happy with the service - purchse - delivery and condition - thank you!
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Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public
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