On this Tuesday night, there was a party to be had and a journalistic legend — the indefatigable Helen Thomas — to be honored. And not even the threat of snow could stop the 63rd annual congressional dinner of the Washington Press Club Foundation.
[N]o honor meant more than the lifetime achievement award bestowed on veteran White House correspondent Thomas.
“On behalf of the House of Representatives, we salute Helen Thomas,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. “You could have gotten [this award] over and over again, Helen.”
“One of the greatest reporters in the history of the republic,” Kennedy called her.
Thomas is definitely a perfectionist. Two hours before her speech, she was hunched over on the stage of the VIP room, a red pen in hand, rereading her remarks. (“To the members of Congress, I say, do the right thing. Pass laws that are fair to everyone. . . . To the media, I say, let’s follow the truth wherever it leads us, and let the chips fall where they may . . .”)
She’s been attending these dinners since the late ’40s. She was president of the Women’s National Press Club in 1959.
“I’ve picked the greatest profession in the world,” Thomas said. “There is nothing more indispensable to a democracy than a free press.”
Spoken like an old pro, still idealistic after all these years.