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Dateline: White House by Helen Thomas

Dateline: White House

by Helen Thomas

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Dateline: White House
Author: Helen Thomas
Publisher: Macmillan
Published In: New York, NY, USA
Date: 1975
Pgs: 298


A warm account of the Presidents from the Kennedys to the Fords from a reporter who covered them all from the front row of the White House Briefing Room. A behind-the-scenes look at the Press Corps and the Presidents through the 60s and early 70s.

Behind the Scenes

Why this book:
Nancy pulled this off her bookshelf while we were discussing politics and not really listening to each other, she’s Republican, I’m Democrat. She gave me this and two other books to read.

This Story is About:
working hard, love of country, sadness, family

Favorite Character:

Margaret Mitchell

Least Favorite Character:
Jackie Kennedy and her elite patrician side that was showcased here, but usually was hidden from the general public.

James Mitchell in going along with the treatment of his wife at the hands of “bodyguards” and friends, he showed himself to not be much.

Character I Most Identified With:

The Feel:
The sarcastic behind the scenes look at the Kennedys is awesome.

Favorite Scene:
It’s a scary vignette on the whole Watergate debacle. But those scenes where they acted to have Margaret Mitchell and her mouth out of Washington and what they did to keep her quiet during and after the actual break-in is horrifying.

The writing is very well paced.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:

Hmm Moments:
When a President deals in less than the truth, the country is the victim.

Gerald Ford said of her. “She has praised me when it was earned - and needled me when it was necessary and I have always been grateful for her fairness.”

She paints a picture of Jackie Kennedy not in line with the legend and myth that have grown up around her. The ultra-socialite and high society person gets more page time here than the shy, demure image that was carefully crafted for the rest of us to eat like pablum.

LBJ’s credibility gap seems to have been entirely of his own making. His micromanaging of what was said to the press and his attempting to stage manage what was reported lead to him making statements that he knew weren’t true without any intention of clearing them up or, in some cases, actively contradicting them himself. In this way, he set the stage for modern politics in America in a way that I had not previously given him credit for.

Nixon following on LBJ being a product of his environment couldn't have done differently with the press if he had tried. Nixon built a stiff, formal, and officious staff to deal with the press which suffered in contrast to the First Lady’s staff though they lorded it over the First Lady’s staff and treated them as if they worked for them instead of their working for the First Lady.

Thomas seems to have genuinely liked the people she covered in her time at the White House despite the necessarily adversarial relationship that was engendered between press and politician. Pat Nixon commented on how she saw Helen as a friend before all the Watergate mess. But as the happenings progressed and the President more and more isolated himself, the press was forced to ask the questions to who was available. Leading the White House’s inhabitants further and further along the road in their fortress mentality.

Nixon allowing many of these things to be done in his name while he kept his hands clean, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, was criminal, absolutely criminal.

Why isn’t there a screenplay?
Would make an interesting History Channel, Discovery Channel type thing, but doubt it would have the makings of a major motion picture.

Maybe a series in the West Wing vein.

Casting call:

Last Page Sound:
Very interesting.

Author Assessment:
This is a quote rich book written by a journalist par excellence. This is an anecdotal retelling of the history of the early years of Helen Thomas’s time in the White House Press Corps.

Editorial Assessment:
The book was well paced and edited.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
real genre classic

Disposition of Book:
Nancy’s bookshelf

Would recommend to:
genre fans ( )
  texascheeseman | Jul 10, 2014 |
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