Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Saluting Helen Thomas
By Jon E. Easter
Outspoken, brash, and never afraid to express herself, Helen Thomas retired abruptly yesterday in the wake of her completely inappropriate and offensive comments last week on the latest Israel-Palestine dust-up. She is just shy of her 90th birthday.
What she said doesn't bear repeating, honestly. She apologized, and she has been rightly raked through the reeds enough on it. I'm not going to pile on here.
I just want to salute her for her 68 years of work in the field of journalism. Most of that time was spent in the White House Press Pool where she became a fixture in the front row in the press room during news conferences.
Journalism has changed immensely since Thomas graduated from college in 1942. After a short stint at the defunct Washington Daily News, she joined United Press International where she would stay until 2000. The last 10 years Thomas has been writing for Hearst Newspapers. That abruptly came to an end yesterday when she resigned and retired.
Helen Thomas certainly should be remembered as a pioneer for women journalists. In a male-dominated newsroom, Thomas rose to the top and stayed there for many, many years.
While she did not stick the dismount of her career at all, I think she should be remembered more for her contributions to the profession rather than the comments that led to her retirement. She has been a sensational journalist who has asked the tough questions and jousted with 11 United States Presidents and, by my count, 22 Press Secretaries. When you think about it, that's a pretty amazing feat for the daughter of Lebanese immigrants from Winchester, Kentucky.
So, even though it might be a little earlier than you planned it, enjoy retirement Ms. Thomas. The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room won't be the same without you.