Saturday, July 20, 2013

Helen of Truth

"Helen Thomas defends remarks on Israel" Associated Press / October 13, 2010

MARION, Ohio — In an interview, Helen Thomas, former White House correspondent, acknowledges she touched a nerve with remarks about Israel. But she said the comments were “exactly what I thought,’’ even though she realized soon afterward that they meant the end of her job.

“I hit the third rail. You cannot criticize Israel in this country and survive,’’ Thomas told Ohio station WMRN-AM in a sometimes emotional interview that aired yesterday. It was recorded a week earlier by reporter Scott Spears at Thomas’s Washington, D.C., condominium.

Thomas, 90, stepped down from her job as a columnist for Hearst News Service in June after a rabbi and independent filmmaker videotaped her outside the White House calling on Israelis to get out of Palestine. She gave up her front-row seat in the White House press room, where she had aimed often pointed questions at presidents going back to Eisenhower.

She has kept a low profile since. It was “very hard for the first two weeks. After that, I came out of my coma,’’ Thomas said.

Rabbi David Nesenoff, who runs the website, said he approached Thomas after he’d been at the White House for Jewish Heritage Day on May 27. He asked whether she had any comments on Israel.

“Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,’’ she replied.

“Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not Germany; it’s not Poland,’’ she continued. Asked where they should go, she answered, “They should go home.’’

“Where’s home?’’ Nesenoff asked.

“Poland, Germany, and America, and everywhere else,’’ Thomas replied.

“They distorted my remarks,’’ Thomas, a daughter of Lebanese immigrants, said in yesterday’s radio interview.

Asked whether she’s anti-Semitic, she said: “Baloney!’’


Also see:

Helen Thomas: One of the few mainstream journalists that mattered

Thanks and hugs from all, Helen Thomas, 89-year old, oft-referred to “dean of the White House press corps,” who retired today, Monday, moments after the parroting White House Correspondents Association said it was considering stripping her of her front row press briefing room seat. What brought on their echoing ire?

Well, it was as simple as Helen suggesting back in May that Israeli Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and return to Germany and Poland “or wherever they came from.” Bless you, Helen, for claiming your rights of free speech and the press, constitutionally granted to you, and telling the violent if not psychopathic state of Israel where to go. I personally would have suggested hell, a more fitting place for these lying, two-faced lunatics.

Thanks, Helen, for telling it like it is!

"Helen Thomas: an Appreciation


The propagandists for the Israel Lobby, who occupy the Wall Street Journal editorial page while pretending to be journalists, are determined to remove Helen Thomas from the annals of journalism. In case you have already forgotten, a few days ago the distinguished career of Helen Thomas, the 89-year-old doyen of the White House Press Corps, was ended by the Israel Lobby, which made an issue about her opinion that immigrant Jews should leave Palestine and go back to their home countries.

The White House Correspondents’ Association fell in line with the demands of the Israel Lobby, and the cowardly president of the organization added the association’s disapprobation to that of the neoconservative cabal.

Having removed Helen Thomas from the journalism scene, the Israel Lobby is now  working with its agents on the Wall Street Journal editorial page to eliminate the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society of Professional Journalists.

A nonentity in the world of journalism, James Taranto, apparently is associated with the Wall Street Journal editorial page, although Wikipedia reports that he was incapable of graduating from journalism school at California State University, Northridge. On a Wall Street Journal web site, Taranto writes: “We’ve been calling Thomas ‘American journalism’s crazy old aunt in the attic’ for years,” and he asks who would now accept the Helen Thomas award after Ms. Thomas revealed she really was crazy by criticizing Israel.

I would for one.  Of course the Society of Professional Journalists would never give the award, assuming the distinguished award survives the assault of the Israel Lobby’s assassins, to a critic of Israel. Helen excepted, American journalists are cowards. With the concentrated ownership of the corporate media today, no independently-minded journalist can have a career in print or TV media. You defend the Washington/Tel Aviv line, or you are out of work.

The absence of independently-minded journalists on the Wall Street Journal editorial page is an extraordinary change from my days as Associate Editor of that page. The editorial page editor, Robert Bartley was ambitious and forced himself to tolerate talented colleagues. Mere opinion was not our task. Often we scooped the reporters on the news side of the paper. Our editorials reported new developments and provided factual analysis.

I was hired as Jude Wanniski’s replacement. Jude, Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, was fired, allegedly because the journal’s brass caught him handing out election campaign literature on a train platform, but if you believe American journalism was ever that pure, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

Jude was fired, because the neoconservatives got rid of him by telling Bartley that Wanniski was over-shadowing him. That was too much for Bob’s ego.  Jude, of course, being a real journalist, was objective toward the Palestinians and thus had earned the enmity of the Israel Lobby.

Once Bob was rapidly declining with prostate cancer, neoconservatives engineered the takeover of the editorial page. Today the once proud Wall Street Journal editorial page is a leading apologist for Israeli/American war crimes and police states.

To return to the nonentity, James Taranto, who wants to throw Helen Thomas down the memory hole:  Helen Thomas’ opinion that Israelis should stop stealing the villages, homes, and lands of Palestinians, while confining Palestinians to the equivalent of the Warsaw Ghetto, is equated by Taranto to the advocacy of “ethnic cleansing” by Helen.

Of course, it is the Israelis who are doing the ethnic cleansing. Many Jews have documented Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, such as Uri Avnery, a former member of the Israeli terrorist organization, Irgun, Ilan Pappe, Israel’s most distinguished historian and author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, and the Israeli peace group, ICHAD, who have been my house guests. The Israeli newspaper, Haaratz, is far more critical of Israeli policy than Helen Thomas, and so is MIT professor Noam Chomsky, the distinguished British journalist and film maker John Pilger, and the distinguished scholar, Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors.

But  Taranto prefers an 89-year old adversary.

Israel is an unnatural state. It was created by terror that was accommodated by craven British and US “diplomacy.”  Israel exists for one reason only: the US government provides the money, weapons, and diplomatic protection. Any other government that murdered thousands of civilians in other countries, as Israel does routinely in Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank, would have its entire government and military on trial before the War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague. Israelis have no worst enemy than their own government.

Every time the rest of the world tries to hold the Israeli government accountable for its crimes, the US vetoes the UN resolution. America has become the enabler of the Zionist-hijacked Israeli government.  And the Israeli government knows it. Israeli government leaders have publicly bragged for decades about their control over the US government.  US Admiral Tom Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after whom the F-14 “Tomcat” jet fighter was named, declared publicly: “No American President can stand up to Israel.”  Apparently no American journalist can either.

I am a critic of Israel’s heartless policy toward the Palestinians, but I do not want Israel destroyed. I want it moved or reformed. Bring the small number of Israelis to America before there is a nuclear war over the fact that they are where they should not be. To try to claim a land and dispossess its people on the basis of a spurious two thousand year year old deed is an audacious act of conquest and dispossession.

My proposal to relocate Israelis in the US is rhetorical, but  why not insist that the Israelis, who are heavily dependent on US largess, reform? Why should Americans support an apartheid racist state that denies citizenship to the rightful inhabitants?  What kind of morality, if any, does the Wall Street Journal editorial page represent when it defends Israelis who force Palestinians into ever-shrinking ghettos, deprived of water, food, medical care and schools? Why must Palestinians live in dread of Israeli bulldozers arriving to flatten their homes in order to create space for Zionist “settlers.”

Allegedly, the US is a superpower, but in fact it is a puppet state of the Israeli government. Witness, for example (the examples are numerous), the fate of the Goldstone Report on Israeli war crimes committed in Israel’s assault on Gaza during December 2008-January 2009. Goldstone is a Zionist Jew and a distinguished judge. He was given the task by the United Nations to investigate the Israeli attack on Gaza. Being an honest person, he provided evidence of Israeli war crimes.

What was the result? The bought-and-paid-for US Congress voted, on the instructions of their master, the Israel Lobby, to deep-six the Goldstone Report by a vote of 344 to 36.

Amazing, isn’t it, there were only 36 US Representatives who were not owned by the Israel Lobby.

Of course, James Taranto serves the Israel Lobby. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, not even a shadow of its former self, when it speaks, speaks for Israel and for the Bush/Cheney militarist police state.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has fallen into the low ranks of Brownshirt propaganda. The fact that management tolerates the continuation of totally nonobjective journalism shows why print newspapers are failing everywhere.

The hubris of Taranto, a mere propagandist who will never come close to the league in which Helen Thomas resides, causes him to think that he is fit to pass judgment on a real journalist. Taranto epitomizes the hubris of the neoconservatives. Not a single one of them has the smallest accomplishment. Yet, blinded with arrogance, they remain in ignorant bliss of their status as prostitutes.


"The Helen Thomas' Resolution

by Gilad Atzmon
June 14, 2010

Those who are  engaged in the Palestinian solidarity discourse are familiar with two visions of conflict resolution: the ‘Two State Solution’ and the  ‘One State Solution’. This week we have learned about a third possible resolution that seems to me the most reasonable and ethical considering the circumstances.   Helen Thomas, the 89 years old doyenne of the White House press corps,  sketched it in one sentence. When asked by a Rabbi holding a camera: "where should Israelis go", she said Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine”. When the Rabbi challenged her, she made it plainly clear: “they should go home to Poland, Germany, America and elsewhere”

Thomas was quick to be reminded who runs Capitol Hill. A global war was declared against her.  She had to resign and to apologise. However, her brief yet transparently clear solution is sound and should be elaborated upon.

It is an obvious fact that the Israelis do not belong to the region. The Jewish claim for Zion i.e. Palestine is beyond pathetic. It is in fact as ridiculous as a bunch of  Italian settlers invading London's Piccadilly Circus claiming their right to return to a land once occupied by their Roman forefathers. Obviously Italians would not get away with it, Zionists, on the other hand, have managed to fool the nations for more than a while.

Unlike our Western politicians and Media, Helen Thomas was not impressed by the Zionist argument. Let’s try to understand what she is saying. She suggests  primarily that Jews don’t belong to Palestine and Palestine  certainly doesn’t belong to the Jews. She also argues that the home for Jews is somewhere else. Thomas suggested for instance that Jews should go to Germany. Surely this is not such a rude idea considering the love Germany pours on Israel. We shouldn’t also forget that the Israeli nuclear submarines that have been on their way to the Gulf (according to The Times), were given to Israel by Germany as a ‘present’ at the time that Israel flattened Lebanon (2006). If Angela Merkel is sincere, she should welcome the Israelis to return to her country and save the world from another world conflict.

As it happens, most Western leaders support the Two State Solution, they believe that such a  solution is fair and ethical. I wonder what is so ethical about it, the Two State Solution doesn’t address the Palestinian Cause. It largely ignores the Palestinian Right of Return to their land, homes, villages, fields and orchards. It accepts the outrageous circumstances in which millions of Palestinian refugees will be left dispossessed forever.

Most humanists seem to support the One State Solution, they are convinced that such a solution is fair and ethical. Again, I am rather perplexed here. As much as we accept that sharing the land is reasonable and ethical, it is completely foreign to Jewish ideology and Zionism in particular. Early Zionist immigrants were more than welcome to share the land with the Palestinian indigenous population. But they had a completely different plan in mind, they wanted a ‘Jews only State’. They eventually ethnically cleansed the Palestinians (1948), Those who managed to cling  to the land were eventually  locked behind walls and barbed wire. The One State Solution dismisses the Jewish ideology. As much as I myself tend to support the One State Solution, I am fully aware of the fact that such a solution may become  possible only when the Israeli Jewish population gives up its supremacist ideology. Needless to say that when this happens,  the Jews in Palestine  would become Palestinian Jews:  ordinary people of Jewish ethnic origin  who happen to live on Palestinian land.

Those who are repulsed by Helen Thomas’ resolution, blame her for being discriminatory towards Jews.  The truth of the matter is that Thomas’ suggestion is not at all different or more discriminatory than  the notorious Two State Solution. While Thomas suggests that millions of Jews would peacefully go back to their true home, the Two State Resolution suggests that millions of  Palestinian refugees would be left with no home whatsoever. Clearly, the Israeli State mentions again and again that  it would never  allow Palestinian refugees to return to their land.

Considering the latest Israeli barbarian military operations, bearing in mind the disastrous starvation in Gaza, learning about  the serious threat to world peace imposed by repeated nuclear threats made by Israel against its neighboring States and Iran in particular, we should move the discourse one step further. We better look at the Helen Thomas’ solution.

Seemingly,  the Rabbi who assaulted Helen Thomas,  is not impressed by  Thomas’ solution. He was concerned about six million Jews who perished in Europe. Someone should remind the Rabbi that the European Judeocide has nothing to do with Palestine or the Palestinians. However, his own behaviour towards  Thomas together with the Israeli repellent murderous behaviour in the high seas, in  Palestine, and the Jewish lobbies around the world, all contribute together to a necessary revision of the notion of ‘Jewish suffering’ in history. At the end of the day, our vision of the past is constantly shaped by our present understandings.

Like the rest of humanity, Old Helen Thomas is tired of Jewish power and Israeli barbarism, she touched the nerve exactly where it hurts by saying the plain truth.   “Get the hell out of Palestine”. Truth, it seems, echoes ethics and reason.


"Cashiering Helen Thomas

by Ralph Nader

June 15, 2010 "Information Clearing House" --The termination of Helen Thomas' 62-year long career as a pioneering, no-nonsense newswoman was swift and intriguingly merciless.

The event leading to her termination began when she was sitting on a White House bench under oppressive summer heat. The 89-year-old hero of honest journalism and women's rights, the scourge of dissembling presidents and White House press secretaries, answered a passing visitor's question about Israel with a snappish comment worded in a way she didn't mean; she promptly apologized in writing. Recorded without permission on a hand video, the brief exchange, that included a defense of dispossessed Palestinians, went internet viral on Friday, June 4.

By Monday, Helen Thomas was considered finished, even though she embodied a steadfast belief, in the praiseworthy words of Washington Post columnist, Dana Milbank, "that anybody standing on that podium [in the White House] should be regarded with skepticism."

Over the weekend, her lecture agent dropped her. Her column syndicator, the Hearst company, pressed her to quit "effective immediately," and, it was believed that the White House Correspondents Association, of which she was the first female president, was about to take away her coveted front row seat in the White House press room.

Then, Helen Thomas announced her retirement on Monday, June 10. No doubt she's had her fill of ethnic, sexist and ageist epithets hurled her way over the years -- the very decades she was broadly challenging racism, sexism and, more recently, ageism.

Although the behind the scenes story has yet to come out, the evisceration was launched by two pro-Israeli war hawks, Ari Fleischer and Lanny Davis. Fleischer was George W. Bush's press secretary who bridled under Helen Thomas' questioning regarding the horrors of the Bush-Cheney war crimes and illegal torture. His job was not to answer this uppity woman but to deflect, avoid and cover up for his bosses.

Davis was the designated defender whenever Clinton got into hot water. As journalist Paul Jay pointed out, he is now a Washington lobbyist whose clients include the cruel corporate junta that overthrew the elected president of Honduras. Both men rustled up the baying pack of Thomas-haters during the weekend and filled the unanswered narrative on Fox and other facilitating media.

Then, belatedly, something remarkable occurred. People reacted against this grossly disproportionate punishment. Ellen Ratner, a Fox News contributor, wrote -- "I'm Jewish and a supporter of Israel. Let's face it: we all have said things -- or thought things -- about ‘other' groups of people, things that we wouldn't want to see in print or on video. Anyone who denies it is a liar. Giver her [Helen] a break."

Apparently, many people agree. In an internet poll by the Washington Post, 92% of respondents said she should not be removed from the White House press room. As an NPR listener, R. Carey, e-mailed: "D.C. would be void of journalists if they all were to quit, get fired or retire after making potentially offensive comments."

Listen to Michael Freedman, former managing editor for United Press International: "After seven decades of setting standards for quality journalism and demolishing barriers for women in the workplace, Helen Thomas has now shown that most dreaded of vulnerabilities -- she is human.... Who among us does not have strong feelings about the endless warfare in the Middle East? Who among us has said something we have come to regret?.... Let's not destroy Ms. Thomas now."

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, wrote: "Thomas was the only accredited White House correspondent with the guts to ask Bush the tough questions that define a free press.... Her remarks were offensive, but considering her journalistic moxie and courage over many decades -- a sharp contrast to the despicable deeds committed by so many littering the Washington political scene -- isn't there room for someone who made a mistake, apologized for it and wants to continue speaking truth to power and asking tough questions?"

Last week, in front of the White House, people calling themselves "Jews for Helen Thomas" gathered in a small demonstration. Medea Benajmin -- cofounder of Global Exchange, declared that "We are clear what Helen Thomas meant to say, which is that Israel should cease its occupation of Palestine and we agree with that." While another demonstrator, Zool Zulkowitz, asserted that "by discrediting Helen Thomas, those who believe that Israel can do no wrong shift attention from the public relations debacle of the Gaza Flotilla killings, and intimidate journalists who would ask hard questions about the Israeli occupation of Palestine and American foreign policy."

Helen Thomas, who grew up in Detroit, is an American of Arab descent. She is understandably alert to the one-sided U.S. military and foreign policy in that region. Her questions reflect concerns about U.S. policy in the Middle East by many Americans, including unmuzzled retired military, diplomatic and intelligence officials.

In 2006 when George W. Bush finally called on her, she started her questioning by saying "Your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of Americans and Iraqis. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true." Or when she challenged President Obama last month, asking "When are you going to get out of Afghanistan? Why are we continuing to kill and die there? What is the real excuse?"

Asking the "why" questions was a Thomas trademark. Many self-censoring journalists avoid controversial "why" questions, thereby allowing evasion, dissembling and just plain B.S. to dominate the White House press room. She rejected words that sugarcoated or camouflaged the grim deeds. She started with the grim deeds to expose the doubletalk and officialdom's chronic illegalities.

What appalled Thomas most is the way the media rolls over and fails to hold officials accountable. (British reporters believe they are tougher on their Prime Ministers.) This is a subject about which she has written books and articles -- not exactly the way to endear herself to those reporters who go AWOL and look the other way, so that they cancontinue to be called upon or to be promoted by their superiors.

The abysmal record of the New York Times and the Washington Post in the months preceding the Iraq invasion filled with Bush-Cheney lies, deception, and cover-ups is a case in point. As usual, she was proven right, not the celebrated reporters and columnists deprecating her work, including the Post's press critic, Howard Kurtz.

Thomas practiced her profession with a deep regard for the people's right to know. To her, as Aldous Huxley noted long ago, "facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."

Lastly, there is the double standard. One off-hand "ill-conceived remark," as NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard stated, in praising Ms. Thomas, ended a groundbreaking career. While enhanced careers and fat lecture fees are the reward for ultra-right wing radio and cable ranters, and others like columnist Ann Coulter, who regularly urge wars, mayhem and dragnets based on bigotry, stereotypes and falsehoods directed wholesale against Muslims, including a blatant anti-semitism against Arabs.

Ms. Thomas' desk at the Hearst office remains unattended a week after her eviction. One day she will return to pack up her materials. She can take with her the satisfaction of joining all those in our history who were cashiered ostensibly for a gaffe, but really for being too right, too early, too often.

Her many admirers hope that she continues to write, speak and motivate a generation of young journalists in the spirit of Joseph Pulitzer's advice to his reporters a century ago -- that their job was to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."


She won't be able to write or speak anymore:

"Pioneering journalist Helen Thomas dies at 92" by Calvin Woodward |  Associated Press, July 20, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — Helen Thomas, the irrepressible White House correspondent who used her seat in the front row of history to grill nine presidents — often to their discomfort and was not shy about sharing her opinions, died Saturday. She was 92.

Thomas, who died at her apartment in Washington, had been ill for a long time, and in and out of the hospital before coming home Thursday, according to a friend, Muriel Dobbin.

Thomas made her name as a bulldog for United Press International in the great wire-service rivalries of old, and as a pioneer for women in journalism.

She was persistent to the point of badgering. One White House press secretary described her questioning as ‘‘torture’’ — and he was one of her fans.

Her refusal to conceal her strong opinions, even when posing questions to a president, and her public hostility toward Israel, caused discomfort among colleagues.

In 2010, that tendency finally ended a career which had started in 1943 and made her one of the best known journalists in Washington. On a videotape circulated on the Internet, she said Israelis should ‘‘get out of Palestine’’ and ‘‘go home’’ to Germany, Poland or the United States. The remark brought down widespread condemnation and she ended her career.

In January 2011, she became a columnist for a free weekly paper in a Washington suburb, months after the controversy forced her from her previous post.

In her long career, she was indelibly associated with the ritual ending White House news conferences. She was often the one to deliver the closing line: ‘‘Thank you, Mister. President’’ — four polite words that belied a fierce competitive streak.

Her disdain for White House secrecy and dodging spanned five decades, back to President John Kennedy. Her freedom to voice her peppery opinions as a speaker and a Hearst columnist came late in her career.

The Bush administration marginalized her, clearly peeved with a journalist who had challenged President George W. Bush to his face on the Iraq war and declared him the worst president in history.

After she quit UPI in 2000 — by then an outsized figure in a shrunken organization — her influence waned.

Thomas was accustomed to getting under the skin of presidents, if not to the cold shoulder.

‘‘If you want to be loved,’’ she said years earlier, ‘‘go into something else.’’

There was a lighter mood in August 2009, on her 89th birthday, when President Barack Obama popped into in the White House briefing room unannounced. He led the roomful of reporters in singing ‘‘Happy Birthday to You’’ and gave her cupcakes. As it happened, it was the president’s birthday too, his 48th.

Thomas was at the forefront of women’s achievements in journalism. She was one of the first female reporters to break out of the White House ‘‘women’s beat’’ — the soft stories about presidents’ kids, wives, their teas and their hairdos — and cover the hard news on an equal footing with men.

She became the first female White House bureau chief for a wire service when UPI named her to the position in 1974. She was also the first female officer at the National Press Club, where women had once been barred as members and she had to fight for admission into the 1959 luncheon speech where Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev warned: ‘‘We will bury you.’’

The belligerent Khrushchev was an unlikely ally in one sense. He had refused to speak at any Washington venue that excluded women, she said.

Thomas fought, too, for a more open presidency, resisting all moves by a succession of administrations to restrict press access.

‘‘People will never know how hard it is to get information,’’ Thomas told an interviewer, ‘‘especially if it’s locked up behind official doors where, if politicians had their way, they'd stamp TOP SECRET on the color of the walls.’’

Born in Winchester, Ky., to Lebanese immigrants, Thomas was the seventh of nine children. It was in high school, after working on the student newspaper, that she decided she wanted to become a reporter.

After graduating from Detroit’s Wayne University (now Wayne State University), Thomas headed straight for the nation’s capital. She landed a $17.50-a-week position as a copy girl, with duties that included fetching coffee and doughnuts for editors at the Washington Daily News.

United Press — later United Press International — soon hired her to write local news stories for the radio wire. Her assignments were relegated at first to women’s news, society items and celebrity profiles.

Her big break came after the 1960 election that sent Kennedy to the White House, and landed Thomas her first assignment related to the presidency. She was sent to Palm Beach, Fla., to cover the vacation of the president-elect and his family.

JFK’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, complained that he learned of his daughter Luci’s engagement from Thomas’s story.

Bigger and better assignments would follow for Thomas, among them President Richard M. Nixon’s breakthrough trip to China in 1972.

When the Watergate scandal began consuming Nixon’s presidency, Martha Mitchell, the notoriously unguarded wife of the attorney general, would call Thomas late at night to unload her frustrations at what she saw as the betrayal of her husband John by the president’s men.

It was also during the Nixon administration that the woman who scooped so many others was herself scooped — by the first lady. Pat Nixon was the one who announced to the Washington press corps that Thomas was engaged to Douglas Cornell, chief White House correspondent for UPI’s archrival, AP.

They were married in 1971. Cornell died 11 years later.

Thomas stayed with UPI for 57 years, until 2000, when the company was purchased by News World Communications, which was founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church.

At age 79, Thomas was soon hired as a Washington-based columnist for newspaper publisher Hearst Corp.

A self-described liberal, Thomas made no secret of her ill feelings for the final president she covered — the second President Bush. ‘‘He is the worst president in all of American history,’’ she told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif.

Thomas also was critical of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, asserting that the deaths of innocent people should hang heavily on Bush’s conscience.

‘‘We are involved in a war that is becoming more dubious every day,’’ she said in a speech to thousands of students at Brigham Young University in September 2003. ‘‘I thought it was wrong to invade a country without any provocation.’’

Some students walked out of the lecture. She won over others with humorous stories from her ‘‘ringside seat’’ to history.

In March 2005, she confronted Bush with the proposition that ‘‘your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis’’ and every justification for the attack proved false.

‘‘Why did you really want to go to war?’’ she demanded.

When Bush began explaining his rationale, she interjected: ‘‘They didn’t do anything to you, or to our country.’’

‘‘Excuse me for a second,’’ Bush replied. ‘‘They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaida. That’s where al-Qaida trained.’’

‘‘I'm talking about Iraq,’’ she said.

Her strong opinions finally ended her career.

After a visit to the White House, David Nesenoff, a rabbi and independent filmmaker, asked Thomas on May 27, 2010, whether she had any comments on Israel. ‘‘Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,’’ she replied. ‘‘Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not Germany, it’s not Poland,’’ she continued. Asked where they should go, she answered, ‘‘They should go home.’’ When asked where’s home, Thomas replied: ‘‘Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else.’’

The resulting controversy brought widespread rejection of her remarks. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called them ‘‘offensive and reprehensible.’’ Many Jews were offended by her suggestion that Israelis should ‘‘go home’’ to Germany, Poland and America since Israel was initially settled in 1948 by Jews who had survived or escaped Hitler’s attempt to kill all the Jews in Germany, and many in neighboring conquered countries.

Within days, she retired from her job at Hearst.


"Helen Thomas: Dead at 92

by Stephen Lendman

On July 20, headlines reported the news. The doyen of the White House House press corps was gone.

After a long illness, the Gridiron Club and Foundation announced her passing. She ended decades covering presidential press conferences saying, "Thank you, Mr. President."

She was special. She'll be sorely missed. She spoke truth to power. Too few like her remain. Washington targets those who do.

She withstood tough challenges. She did it throughout her career. She was born on August 4, 1920. She's a Winchester, KY native. Her father was a grocer. She was one of nine children.

She was the first female White House press corps representative. She worked for UPI. She covered US administrations for five decades. She began during the Kennedy years. Her tenure was unprecedented.

As a high school freshmen, journalism was her ambition. In 1942, she earned a Wayne State University BA in English. Her career spanned six decades.

She became a Washington Daily News copy girl. She advanced to reporter status. She did so quickly. Her talent was too good to hold back.

She began reporting local news. She did women's stories. In the early 1950s, she covered Washington celebrities and government agencies.

In 1960, she covered President-elect John Kennedy. She attended daily press briefings and conferences. In 1962, she convinced Kennedy to let women attend annual White House dinners. Journalists and photographers were invited.

In 1970, she became UPI's first female White House Bureau chief. In 1975, she was the first woman admitted to Washington's Gridiron Club. Later she became its president.

In 1975-76, she was White House Correspondents Association's first female president.

Over the span of her career, she became a legend in her own time. No one in modern-day mainstream US journalism matched her. She was a fixture at White House press conferences.

She was called "the First Lady of the Press." It was for good reason. She covered 10 presidents for over five decades. She asked hard-hitting questions.

She wrote about what readers need to know. She sat in the first row. For decades, she asked the first question. It was a special honor perhaps few, if any others, enjoyed.

In 2000, she resigned from UPI. She did so after Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church acquired it. Hearst Corporation hired her as a columnist.

Throughout her career, she received numerous awards. She got over 30 honorary degrees. In 1976, she was named one of the World Almanac's 25 Most Influential Women in America.

In 1986, she received the University of Kansas William Allen White Foundation Award for Journalistic Merit. In 1991, she won the Freedom Forum Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media.

In 1998, the White House Correspondents Association established the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award. It did so in her honor.

In 2000, Wayne State University created the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award.

In 2002, the National Newspaper Association gave her a lifetime achievement award. In 2007, so did the Washington Press Club Foundation. The same year, she received the National Research Center for Women & Families Foremother Award.

In 2010, she got the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) lifetime achievement award.

The same year, her career prematurely end. She spoke truth to Israel. She said Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine (and) go home."

She meant Israeli occupiers. She expressed frustration and anger about 62 years of persecution. It's over 65 now. It's 46 under brutalizing militarized occupation. It's horrific enough to enrage any justice defender.

Thomas explained more. Her comments "reflect(ed her) heartfelt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon," she stressed.

She retired days later. In July 2011, she resumed writing for the Falls Church News-Press.

In April 2012, PLO General Mission to America head Maen Areikat honored Thomas for her "long career in the field of journalism, during which she defended the Palestinian position every step of the way."

According to Washington's PLO office, its Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi "presented Thomas with the appreciation and blessing of the president and the Palestinian people, for all of her actions supporting Palestine in the West."

Ralph Nader called her "a pioneering, no-nonsense newswoman." She's a "hero of honest journalism and women's rights."

She's "the scourge of dissembling presidents and White House press secretaries." In 2006, she challenged George Bush saying:

"Your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of Americans and Iraqis. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true."

In mid-2010, she asked Obama: "When are you going to get out of Afghanistan? Why are we continuing to kill and die there? What is the real excuse?"

Her trademark was asking tough "why" questions. Self-censoring wasn't her style. She knew lies when she heard them. She challenged duplicitous dissembling.

She rejected sugarcoated rubbish. She didn't look the other way. She refused to roll over for power.

She challenged wrongs needing exposure. She did so responsibly. She believed good journalism involves "comfort(ing) the afflicted and afflict(ing) the comfortable."

She took Aldous Huxley's comments seriously. "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored," he said.

She cared. It showed. She spent a lifetime telling readers what they need to know. She did so reponsibly. It bears repeating. She'll be sorely missed.


Also see: (Helen Thomas Lives Forever!)


"A Dirge for Helen Thomas and other Headstones in The Cemeteries of Night

Dog Poet Transmitting.......

May your noses always be cold and wet.

First, let me pay my respects to that fine and enduring lady, Helen Thomas. For all of the things she has done. For some reason she always reminds me of Danny Thomas, who was also Lebanese. She was a good egg was Helen Thomas and if most everyone else on our side of the fence, is not going to give her the time of day, then I certainly will. I have always admired that woman. She may not have been perfect but none of us are (save for a very few) or we wouldn't be here. She was a woman of great courage and conviction. She showed the fire of her metal and integrity there at the end. I would have rather she had not apologized afterwards, I never would have and my words would have been stronger but that is me and I will not sit in judgment of her for it. She held the various president's feet to the fire, I saw her doing it and she had the balls (unlike so many of her neutered male, house pet contemporaries) to say that George W. Bush was the worst American president in history and... that's saying something.

So, if you're a man or a woman who like a drink now and again, do me, yourselves and Helen a righteous favor and raise a drink to her this very evening. Toast her for setting an example, followed by few. She will not be forgotten and certainly not by me. God Bless you Helen, wherever you may be now. The world is better for your having been here, not worse ...and that it something all of us might well wish to be true of ourselves and there is life enough and time enough to make that so.

Now, just watch anonymous, show up with some nasty things to say about her. It won't mean a thing cause, it ain't no thing. There aren't too many ladies with her character around. She was consistent and she was honest, in a profession where those two qualities, along with integrity are seldom, if ever seen....

Once again, long may you wave, Helen Thomas. I loved you then and I love you yet and ever shall. There was many lass considered more lovely by any measurement to you but, to my eyes, you were beautiful in ways far too often unseen. If beauty is only skin deep then some portion of your own went all the way to the bone.