Tonight, as part of its summer documentary film series, HBO debuts a documentary that profiles Helen Thomas, the journalist who’s known as the “first lady of the press” for covering all presidents since Kennedy. Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House debuts at 9 p.m. ET, and repeats frequently this month and next.
The 37-minute film was directed by Rory Kennedy, the director of Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, and who also happens to be the niece of John F. Kennedy, who, again, happens to be the first president Helen Thomas covered.
As Helen Thomas writes about in Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public, she talks in the film about her understanding of the press’ role, saying, “I think that presidents deserve to be questioned, perhaps irreverently, to bring them down a size.”
Regardless of the political party or ideology of the presidents she covered, Thomas always “relentlessly, consistently, and singularly asked the tough questions,” Kennedy told reporters in L.A. in July. Her documentary is structured around a one-on-one interview with Thomas, during which she talks about each president she covered, and includes footage of her interaction with them. Here’s the trailer: