Posted by: davidrcollier | June 29, 2009

Who is the Mystery Lady?

As I mentioned in class today, first little piece of homework is to identify the woman asking President Obama the question in the picture above.

Secondly, why is it significant that she is asking a question at that particular press conference and, lastly, why did she briefly make the news last week?

Answers as comments please. To help you along, here’s another picture:



  1. If I am not mistaken, the women in question is veteran journalist and best-selling author Helen Thomas. During Barrack Obama’s first White House press conference on February 9, 2009 (pictured on the template above) she asked the president whether any Middle Eastern country possess nuclear weapons.

  2. Very good – that’s the identity question answered.

    Now, what was significance about her asking Obama a question..maybe compared to previous administrations….

    Also, can anyone find any news from last week regarding her?

  3. Helen Thomas asked President Barack Obama whether any Middle Eastern country possesses nuclear weapons. She asked the same question to a number of United States’ presidents in the past. Similar to past presidents, President Barack Obama did not respond. He said he would not speculate. When Helen Thomas attempted to ask him a follow up question, he ignored her and moved on to Sam Stein of the Huffington Post. Most citizens of the United States know the answer to the question that was asked during the press conference. The answer is Israel. It’s common knowledge. However, Helen Thomas asked the question because she wanted to see if he would ignore the question like past presidents or have the courage to answer it. Helen Thomas’ negative opinion of Barack Obama and his political party was unchanged as a result of his silence.

  4. Good…there’s still some more to the story however. Was it significant that Obama called on Helen Thomas for his first question of his first press conference, maybe compared to a certain previous administration?

    Has she been called on again following the tough question she posed on Pakistan/Israel and what point was she trying to make at last weeks press conference?

  5. At last weeks press conference, Suzanne Malveaux asked President Obama for his reaction to the video of Neda, an Iranian woman, dying. Obama called it heartbreaking and unjust. He mentioned international norms such as freedom of speech and expression. At this point, Helen Thomas interrupted asking why he wouldn’t allow the photos, referring to the suppression of American torture images. Basically Helen wanted to know how Obama could talk up the importance of the Neda video and how it brought Iranian injustices to light, while not doing the same for his own government. You can see the video here and it should start when Suzanne asks her question.

  6. Helen Thomas believes that President Barack Obama is following in the footsteps of former President George W Bush. During President George W Bush’s final press conference, he refused to call on Helen Thomas who was sitting in the front row and raising her hand. This is probably a result of the altercation that took place between George W Bush and Helen Thomas when she asked him what the real reason was behind him wanting to go to war with Iraq. She attacked him and they began fighting back and fourth over the question. Maybe President Barack Obama answered Helen Thomas’ question first because he wanted to prove that he wasn’t George W Bush who he is commonly compared to and that he was his own person. She is also viewed as an important and powerful figure.

    President Barack Obama “seated a left-wing radio host in the coveted front row, called on a liberal blogger from the Huffington Post, and brought far-left columnist Helen Thomas out of the wilderness and let her ruminate about “so-called terrorists”. In my mind, his intention was to show
    respect to the left side during his first press conference as President of the United States. It also served as a tactic for popularity.

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