"Thank You, Mr. President," an engaging HBO documentary about the career of journalist Helen Thomas, is a fine little film as far as it goes. It goes only as far as 38 minutes, actually — quite short for a biographical project. HBO calls it a "documentary short," but did it start out that way? One can’t help wondering if the film was shortened in the final edit to obscure a blemish or two on Thomas’s celebrated career — the documentary equivalent of cosmetic surgery.
…What’s disappointing about Thomas, and troubling about the film, is her stridency in criticizing Israel and defending its enemies. Other than a passing reference to Thomas’s parents as having been Syrian immigrants, the film never hints at Thomas’s anti-Israeli rhetoric. In her writings, she’s already dismissed both John McCain and Barack Obama as being friendly to Israel and hostile to the Palestinians, "so the Israelis have no worries about the November election."
Especially during the current administration, her "questions" at press briefings have been more like tirades, on one occasion prompting Tony Snow, the late journalist who was then press secretary, to respond, "Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view." This would have been a pertinent and amusing clip to include in the film. Not for nothing was Thomas recently hailed as "the epitome of journalistic integrity for over 57 years" — by the Arab American News.