Is Neal Gabler jealous of Helen Thomas' status as a leading Bush media antagonist? You might think so, judging by the barbs Gabler aimed Thomas' way on this evening's Fox News Watch.
In discussing Thomas' pointed exchange with President Bush during this past week's press conference, Gabler, whose sole regular media job would seem to be his weekly appearance on Fox News Watch, did claim that Thomas' question as to the president's motivation in invading Iraq was a good one. But Gabler prefaced that comment by gratuitously observing: "Helen has asked dumb questions in her time."
Gabler later referred to Thomas as "a dotty old woman."
Palpably surprised by Gabler's gibe, conservative Newsday columnist Jim Pinkerton repeated it questioningly: "a dotty old woman?"
Gabler took the opportunity to attempt to wriggle off the hook-of-his-own-making: "That is how she is portrayed by the right-wing press."
Pinkerton: "I thought you said that."
"No, I am saying that is her portrayal."
Sorry, Neal, we're not buying. When Gabler offered up the 'dotty old woman' characterization, he didn't do so with verbal quotation marks around the phrase, nor did he suggest that this was the way she was portrayed by anyone but himself. Had Pinkerton not inadvertently offered a life line, the crack would have unquestionably stood as an expression of Gabler's personal view of Thomas.
Add in Gabler's "dumb question" shot at Helen, and the picture emerges of a relatively obscure left-wing critic envious of another's notoriety.