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Helen Thomas Dead at 92

Updated 1:30 pm ET

Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas died today at the age of 92.

Thomas covered every president since John F. Kennedy. She worked for UPI and then Hearst until retiring abruptly in 2010 after saying the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Germany and Poland.

I wanted to let you know she had died. I worked with her at the White House from 1997 until her retirement, and I’ll share some personal reflections Monday.

UPDATE: Obama released a statement early this afternoon:

Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Helen Thomas.  Helen was a true pioneer, opening doors and breaking down barriers for generations of women in journalism.  She covered every White House since President Kennedy’s, and during that time she never failed to keep presidents – myself included – on their toes.

What made Helen the “Dean of the White House Press Corps” was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account.  Our  thoughts are with Helen’s family, her friends, and the colleagues who respected her so deeply.

Note he skirts her antisemitism. Would he have done similarly, I wonder, if she had said something racist?

91 thoughts on “Helen Thomas Dead at 92”

  1. My DearMother taught us that if you can’t say something nice about someone then say nothing, so………………………………………………….

  2. At first I thought Helen Thomas had screwed herself by one isolated comment, but when I mulled it over, I realized that she must had thoughts like that for all her life, a long time at least, and this was just the first time she blurted it out.

      1. Interesting point, Mandy. If someone ever writes a biography of her, he or she should go back and review that coverage.

          1. well, what you may not know is that her anti-Semitism was apparently well known in Washington among her media colleagues. they just didn’t share that with us.

    1. She did, indeed. Her bile did not come as a surprise to anyone who heard her “off print”. The quote at the bottom followed that Jews “should get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Poland, Germany and the United States.

      In a speech to an Arab-American group in Dearborn, Mich., Thomas, 90, said that Congress, the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street “are owned by the Zionists.”

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  4. Helen spoke at my graduation from journalism school in 1982. I thought at the time she was old. As I observed her through the years my admiration continued to plummet until the antisemetic incident at the white house a few years back when it hit rock bottom. I pray she finds peace for her tortured soul.

  5. you guys are all WAY nicer than I am! I WISH I could feel sad at the passing of someone who was such a pioneer and a role model for women in journalism. but I can’t.

    the world is a better place without Helen Thomas in it.

    to answer your question, Keith: if Helen Thomas had been a racist instead of an anti-Semite, Obama wouldn’t have noted her death at all.

    1. I don’t feel sorry for her. I don’t feel sorry for anyone who dies at that age: it’s the natural course of things. But I especially don’t feel sorry for because of the baggage she carried.

      1. I don’t understand (well, not exactly) why “racism” has been so finely honed that it’s alright to be antisemitic, anti-
        Christian, anticaucasian – you can say anything you want to about anybody, as long as the person/group you’re critical of, is not AfAm.
        The English language has been hijacked by scoundrels.
        And I am reminded to beware of the Children of Darkness..

  6. My favorite Helen Thomas moment was her 60 Minutes interview with Tyra Banks in 2010. I’ll never forget the look on Tyra’s face when Helen confessed she’d “made out” with Adolph Hitler as a teenager. RIP Helen.

  7. “What made Helen the “Dean of the White House Press Corps” was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account.”

    I wonder if The One is aware of the irony of his praising someone for doing these things.

  8. Every time I have started to comment somewhere I have been confronted by my mother’s voice: “If you can’t say something nice….”

    I rest comfortably in the knowledge that the harridan is getting her reward.

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  10. Yesterday, I did four loads of laundry, each of which I chose to hang outside to dry, taught my young grandchildren how to play hopscotch, weeded my rose gardens, prepared several casseroles to freeze for the week ahead, balanced the checkbook, and volunteered picking up trash along the road as part of my civic duty.

    I believe that qualifies me for a statement from President Obama. I expect him to sing my praises, tell all Americans that I am fierce, that he knows I ask the tough questions of my grandchildren, and open doors for all people of all races and creeds. Only thing though, I doubt he’ll say “65 Could have Been me”! :-)

    1. open doors for all people of all races and creeds.

      Well with laundry dried on the line and casseroles in the freezer, not to mention roses and hopscotch and presumably other games, I am wondering if there is an age limit to your open door policy ’cause it sounds like a great place to me.

      People say I clean up nice and can mind my manners — mostly, sometimes, ….:)

  11. I wish Keith would leave us an Open Thread to play with on the weekends (hint, hint). R.I.P. Helen, I just don’t want to disrespect an Obit page with other whiny topics :D

    I never thought Thomas should have lost her job over her comments while Al Sharpton’s still allowed to run free and make money off racism and continue to ruin lives. But I do think it was an excuse to get her out of the WH Press Room, Obama feared her.

    1. An open thread would be nice, but MrK lets us stay in the play room on the weekends. He knows we clean up after ourselves and haven’t broken any lamps.

  12. Arizona SenMcCain said today that he thinks Arizona should review their Stand Your Ground law. He obviously doesn’t remember or doesn’t know what prompted our Legislature to adopt the statute.

    Since he spends most of his time lurking around TV stations waiting to give his opinion on anything or everything, he forgot that most of Arizona is made up of small towns and villages in rural or mountain areas that have no emergency help nearby.
    We can assume that he has some kind of security detail that protects him from unwanted attention and that they are armed with lethal weapons.
    I suggest that SenMcCain dismiss his security detail and adopt a “run and hide” mode in the event that someone wants to harm him.

    1. Mostly politicians and certainly McCain don’t have a clue about the overall effect of what they say on real people . They have mythical constituencies that change with their political goals. That said, here and there we have had discussions about the excessive arming of federal agencies, anti gun legislation, acquisition of ammunition and lack thereof in the community, and recently someone, I think Brett, mentioned militarization of the police.

      I was thinking about this and read the following two articles recently. One is from the WSJ and one is a description of an incident close to me. Of course, the ultimate irony is that we will not even request ID from voters or illegals nor do we act to punish them for breaking the law.

    2. Totally agree, srdem. McCain only has concern about the welfare of his constituents when election time rolls around. The rest of the time he can be seen on practically every news channel or Sunday show trying to prove to the liberal news readers that he is just as set on destroying individual liberty and freedom as they are. If there is a gang of “bipartisan” corrupt politicians writing legislation to steal from the American people, he’s first among the Republicans to join them. From the gang of 14, to the gang of 12, and now the gang of 8 – McCain is always first in line to sell America out for a little facetime on TV.

    3. The ‘Imus Whisperer’ should have found a hole to crawl into after throwing the ’08 election to Obama. Instead, he is trying to create a legacy for himself as the ‘Obama Whisperer’.

      Grabbing headlines is his specialty – remember Benghazi? He and that Ayotte woman made the rounds for months. Noise-empty rhetoric. He decided that the lives of 4 Americans and implicating his good friend, Hillary, was not worth the aggravation so he dropped that ball… and rushed to pick up the mantle of 15-20 illegal immigrants who must receive amnesty – at any cost. Repealing AZ’s SYG law in a state that endures more crimes by illegal immigrants than almost any state in the union is insanity. The horror stories of border ranchers should be front page news. McCain should spend more time in his own state instead of chasing the tv cameras!

      The good news, srdem, is that your Senator’s job approval rating is down to a low of 26%. The bad news is there are 3 years left before he turns 80 and decides to take his 30 pieces of silver and retire.

  13. You’re a long time dead. I would hate to think only my stupid comments follow me around. But she did what she wanted and she would take the consequences I think. She broke ground, she duked it out with the high and mighty. There are a few good things.

    1. Oh my, narcissists should never engage in drunk tweeting. Some things are better left to the imagination. This is one of them…

      1. To everyone; I’m so sorry, butt…………..

        Just guessing here; FOX isn’t going to let this, this, whatever slide. It’s really offensive and vulgar.
        What the heck was he thinking?

    2. OMG! He’s going to run for Mayor! Watch out Weiner!

      FOX started going downhill the day they hired this pervert. I worry about this country.

  14. You all are a joke. Can you seriously not differentiate between politics and anti-semitism? Since when does criticism of Israel and borders equate to racism? Are critics of American seizure of Indian territories anti-white racists, or do they merely oppose the methods used?

    And do you seriously not realize that there are hundreds of thousands of Jews- Hasidic being a large sect- that refuse to recognize Israel too? Are they anti-Semitic?

    1. Well, bless your little heart. “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

    2. Still didn’t address the point- are the scores of anti-Zionist Jews anti-Semitic? Do you seriously believe that opposition to both the politics and the history of Israel’s formation equates to racism of the people living there?

      A lot of Orthodox Jews would tell you that their return is predicated on the return of the Messiah, not the British placing them there in the 40s; and that you can be pro-Jew and anti-secular government.

      1. Well, yes. When a Arab-American tells native born Israelis to leave their homeland and move to Poland and Germany because Muslims don’t like them, then yes it’s anti-semitic, racist, and wrong.
        It would be wrong and racist for a White American to tell native born Black Americans that they should move back to Africa.

        It doesn’t matter how many Jews support Israel, what matters is that we, the USA, have promised to protect them from their enemies and we will keep that promise.

        1. black Americans have been here for two hundred years. A better example would be to tell Mexican Americans who have been here less than fifty years, much like the Israeli population, to go back. If I’m not mistaken, that was a platform of the Republican presidential candidate this past election.

          1. Americans of Mexican descent have been here a lot longer than 50 years, Adam. Read a little history on the Republic of Texas, where Tejanos fought side by side with the Texians for independence from Mexico.

            As far as you being a Republican rather than a “dirty liberal”, believe it or not there are many liberals who hide under the Republican brand. They aren’t all “dirty”; mainly just misinformed and suckered into believing the ruling class has their best interests at heart.

    3. And Susan, I’m not a dirty liberal. I’m a Republican with a brain. I know enough that pro-Jew need not equate to pro-Israel. Ally they are, and progress they’ve made, Israel’s formation was a very controversial one. The Irgun was no Minute Men.

      1. Israel’s formation was a very controversial one.


        And, your point is?

        Our nation’s founding was a very controversial event.

        Do you honestly believe that the survivors of the Holocaust should have been forced to stay in the lands that tried to systematically eliminate them? The Holocaust was not the first time Europeans had abused and killed Jews.

        From England to the Pale of Settlement and the various shtetls in between, Jews had been kicked in the teeth for hundreds and hundreds of years.

        When should a people decide that they have had enough and move back to their historical home?

        1. My only point is that an objection to politics and history is not the same as racism. I object to Obama as president, not because of his race, but his policies. I would expect other Republicans to be able to separate policies from the person. To slander Helen Thomas as a Jew-hater is a joke. There are plenty, Jew and non-Jew alike, who take issue with perceived occupation.

          1. Israel is, to my knowledge, the only nation ever created for a particular ‘race”. To me, to hate that nation, to wish it did not exist, speaks volumes about someone’s feelings about Jews.

          2. Liberia. Most of the Americans supporting the deportation of blacks from the states to the African country were the leading abolitionists of the time.

          3. You’re right! I forgot that one completely.


            It’s a nation founded by Africans in Africa. By people who were being sent back by White Folks.

            Uh, sorry.

            There is no comparison between this nation and Israel.

          4. On a parting note, it’s not slander if it’s published. It’s libel. But, that is neither here nor there because you cannot libel the dead.

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