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Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times

by Helen Thomas

"I'm still here, still arriving at the White House in the wee hours of the morning, reading the papers and checking the wire, still waiting for the morning briefing, still sitting down to write the first story of the day and still waiting to ask the tough questions." From the woman who has reported on every president from Kennedy to Clinton for United Press International: a unique glimpse into the White House -- and a telling record of the ever-changing relationship between the presidency and the press. From her earliest years, Helen Thomas wanted to be a reporter. Raised in Depression-era Detroit, she worked her way to Washington after college and, unlike other women reporters who gave up their jobs to returning veterans, parlayed her copy-aide job at the Washington Daily News into a twelve-year stint as a radio news writer for UPI, covering such beats as the Department of Justice and other federal agencies. Assigned to the White House press corps in 1961, Thomas was the first woman to close a press conference with "Thank you, Mr. President," and has covered every administration since Kennedy's. Along the way, she was among the pioneers who broke down barriers against women in the national media, becoming the first female president of the White House Correspondents Association, the first female officer of the National Press Club and the first woman member, later president, of the Gridiron Club. In this revealing memoir, which includes hundreds of anecdotes, insights, observations, and personal details, Thomas looks back at a career spent with presidents at home and abroad, on the ground and in the air. She evaluates the enormous changes that Watergate brought, including diminished press access to the Oval Office, and how they have affected every president since Nixon. Providing a unique view of the past four decades of presidential history, Front Row at the White House offers a seasoned study of the relationship between the chief executive officer and the press -- a relationship that is sometimes uneasy, sometimes playful, yet always integral to democracy. "Soon enough there will be another president, another first lady, another press secretary and a whole new administration to discover. I'm looking forward to it -- although I'm sure whoever ends up in the Oval Office in a new century may not be so thrilled about the prospect."

Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do

by Helen Thomas Craig Crawford

Helen Thomas has covered the administrations of ten presidents in a career spanning nearly sixty years. She is known for her famous press conference closing line, "Thank you, Mr. President," but here she trades deference for directness. Thomas and veteran journalist Craig Crawford hold nothing back as they use former occupants of the White House to provide a witty, history-rich lesson plan of what it takes to be a good president. Combining sharp observation and dozens of examples from the fi rst presidency through the forty-fourth, the authors outline the qualities, attitudes, and political and personal choices that make for the most successful leaders, and the least. Calvin Coolidge, who hired the fi rst professional speechwriter in the White House, illuminates the importance of choosing words wisely. William Howard Taft, notorious for being so fat he broke his White House bathtub, shows how not to cultivate a strong public image. John F. Kennedy, who could handle the press corps and their questions with aplomb, shows how to establish a rapport with the press and open oneself up to the public. Ronald Reagan, who acknowledged the Iran-Contra affair in a television address, demonstrates how telling hard truths can earn forgiveness and even public trust. By gleaning lessons from past leaders, Thomas and Crawford not only highlight those that future presidents should follow but also pinpoint what Americans should look for and expect in their president. Part history lesson, part presidential primer,Listen Up, Mr. Presidentis smart, entertaining, and exceedingly edifying.

Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President

by Helen Thomas

In a natural follow-up to her national bestseller Front Row at the White House, the dean of the White House press corps presents a vivid and personal presidential chronicle. Currently a columnist for Hearst and a former White House bureau chief for UPI, Helen Thomas has covered an unprecedented nine presidential administrations, endearing herself with her trademark "Thank you, Mr. President," at the conclusion of White House press conferences. Thomas has amassed many wonderful tales about her personal interactions with and observations of the presidents and their families that can all be found in Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President. In nine riveting chapters -- one for each administration -- Thomas delights, informs, spins yarns, and offers opinions on the commanders in chief, from Kennedy through George W. Bush. In these accounts, Thomas reveals Kennedy's love of sparring with the press, the unique invitation LBJ extended to Hubert Humphrey to become his running mate, and Reagan's down-home ways of avoiding the press's tougher questions. This book is as entertaining and compelling as Helen Thomas herself.

Watchdogs of Democracy?

by Helen Thomas

In the course of more than sixty years spent covering Washington politics, Helen Thomas has witnessed a raft of fundamental changes in the way news is gathered and reported. Gone are the days of frequent firsthand contact with the president. Now, the press sees the president only at tightly controlled and orchestrated press conferences. In addition, Thomas sees a growing -- and alarming -- reluctance among reporters to question government spokesmen and probe for the truth. The result has been a wholesale failure by journalists to fulfill what is arguably their most vital role in contemporary American life -- to be the watchdogs of democracy. Today's journalists, according to Thomas, have become subdued, compromised lapdogs. Here, the legendary journalist and bestselling author delivers a hard-hitting manifesto on the precipitous decline in the quality and ethics of political reportage -- and issues a clarion call for change. Thomas confronts some of the most significant issues of the day, including the jailing of reporters, the conservative swing in television news coverage, and the administration's increased insistence on "managed" news. But she is most emphatic about reporters' failure to adequately question President George W. Bush and White House spokesmen about the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, and on subjects ranging from homeland security to the economy. This, she insists, was a dire lapse. Drawing on her peerless knowledge of journalism, Washington politics, and nine presidential administrations, as well as frank interviews with leading journalists past and present, Thomas provides readers with a rich historical perspective on the roots of American journalism, the circumstances attending the rise and fall of its golden age, and the nature and consequences of its current shortcomings. The result is a powerful, eye-opening discourse on the state of political reportage -- as well as a welcome and inspiring demand for meaningful and lasting reform.

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