The Helen Thomas of the liberal imagination is, alas, a largely mythical creation--and a convenient one for the administration she supposedly terrorizes. To begin with, she is a bizarre choice for heir to the liberal muckraking tradition. McEvoy's encomium notwithstanding, Thomas bears little resemblance to journalistic crusaders like Murrow, Stone, and Anderson. None of them were members of the White House press corps--which makes sense, given that it is not a natural launching pad for muckrakers. Despite its superficial glamour, the beat holds limited interest for most reporters. Lucky White House correspondents can--or, at least, used to be able to--pal around with the president and his top aides and circulate among the capital's social elite. But the job consists largely of writing down whatever the White House has to say on a given subject, with limited opportunities for original reporting or fresh writing. White House reporters often joke that their trips accompanying the president amount to a "body watch"--i.e., their primary role is to be present in the unlikely event that the chief executive suddenly drops dead. Due to the limited nature of the job, leading newspapers tend to cycle reporters--especially valued ones--off the beat after just a few years.
Via James Taranto.