Following up on Brent Baker's report on the network coverage of Helen Thomas' exchange with President Bush during this morning's presidential press conference, it should be noted that during the 5pm hour of today's The Situation Room, the former UPI White House bureau chief sat down for an interview with anchor Wolf Blitzer. Thomas admitted that she "sort of" apologized to President Bush for her condemnation of him as "the worst president ever." However, it didn't take long for Thomas to resume her attacks on the Bush administration, which she slammed for "encouraging all of the horror that's going on" in Iraq. Thomas also placed the blame for the deaths of innocent civilians not on the terrorists, but on the United States.
Helen Thomas: "In this case, in the case of the President and his cohorts, I think they have really spread war throughout the Middle East. They have really encouraged all of the horror that's going on. We have killed so many innocent people.."
The interview with Thomas aired at 5:15pm EST, and re-aired during The Situation Room's 7pm EST broadcast. Blitzer noted that today was the first time in three years that President Bush had called on Thomas at a press conference. Blitzer referenced Thomas' comments with a reporter from the Torrance, California Daily Breeze where she said of President Bush, "This is the worst president ever. He is the worst president in all of American history."
Wolf Blitzer: "You can't really blame him, if, if you're calling him the worst president, for saying, you know what, I'm not going to call on her."
Thomas: "Oh, I agree with you...I wasn't, I wasn't surprised that he didn't call on me. "
Blitzer: "...Did you talk to him privately or something? Did you meet him?"
Thomas: "No, not really. But I sort of felt bad for the things that I had said that were not supposed to be transmitted, I sort of apologized."
The niceties didn't last long, however. When Blitzer asked Thomas if the President had satisfactorily answered her question on his "real" reason for going to war in Iraq, Thomas started parroting Democratic talking points:
Blitzer: "Did you accept his answer, namely that he didn't come into the presidency believing he was going to go to war against Saddam Hussein, but after 9/11 his world view changed?"
Thomas: "It doesn't, it doesn't parse. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. It certainly had--it was secular, it was not tied to al Qaeda. I think he wanted to go into Iraq with--he had all the neo-conservatives advising. That's the top of their agenda for Project for a New American Century. First Iraq, then Iran--then Syria, then Iran, and so forth."
Thomas' harshest attacks on the administration came when Blitzer asked her if President Bush was "worse" than President Nixon:
Blitzer: "Let's get back to this issue, being the worst president ever, and you covered a lot of presidents, going back to President Kennedy. Worse than Richard Nixon?"
Thomas: "Well, I think, what this President has done is really strike a match to the tinderbox that we all know as the Middle--Middle East. And I think that Nixon's crime, so-called, was the abuse of government power. In this case, in the case of the President and his cohorts, I think they have really spread war throughout the Middle East. They have really encouraged all of the horror that's going on. We have killed so many innocent people, I mean--"
Blitzer: "But you can't forget 9/11. Three thousand people died."
Thomas: "But the Iraqis didn't do it. I mean, how can you, why, why don't you go bomb some other country, I mean, if you have no reason--This is, I, I don't believe in preemptive war, and it certainly is against international law."