June 7th, 2010
12:27 PM ET
5 years ago

Helen Thomas has retired, Hearst announces

ALT TEXT

Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas, 89, (pictured, center) was considered the dean of the White House press corps and held a privileged seat in the front row of the White House press briefing room. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

Washington (CNN) – Longtime White House reporter Helen Thomas has retired effective immediately, Hearst Corporation said Monday.

The media conglomerate had employed Thomas, age 89, as a syndicated columnist for its newspaper chain.

Thomas, who was considered the dean of the White House press corps, had come under fire since late last week when a YouTube video surfaced showing her saying that Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine,” and that the Jewish people should go home to “Poland, Germany … and America and everywhere else.”

In a posting on her website last Friday, Thomas apologized for her remarks. “They do not reflect my heart-felt 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 wrote.

But the apology was not enough to silence critics who began a rising chorus of calls for Thomas either to be terminated or suspended by Hearst.

Related video: Ari Fleischer slams Thomas


Just prior to Hearst’s announcement, the board of the White House Correspondents Association released a statement condemning Thomas’ remarks. The group of White House reporters, which includes CNN’s Ed Henry, called Thomas’ remarks “indefensible.”

The reporters’ statement said, “Many in our profession who have known Helen for years were saddened by the comments, which were especially unfortunate in light of her role as a trailblazer on the White House beat.”

And during a Monday morning briefing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs also criticized Thomas, saying, "Those remarks were offensive and reprehensible. I think she should and has apologized because obviously those remarks do not reflect the - certainly the opinion of, I assume, most of the people in here and certainly not of the administration."

Updated: 12:59 p.m.

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soundoff (323 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    For decades, criticism of Israel has masked blatant Anti-Semitism. Even in some of the comments I see here, this is clearly the case.

    This has nothing to do with Israel – this has to do with Helen Thomas' hatred of Jews. It's completely PC to blame Israel for everything. It's not PC to blame the Jews. The only problem is that in this case it is the same thing.

    The reason why Israel exists in the first place is because Jews have been kicked out of country after country for thousands of years simply because of their beliefs and ignorance.

    For all of you Helen Thomas and Mel Gibson admirers, where should the Jews go? They were murdered by the millions in their adopted European homes. They were denied entry by dozens of countries (yes, even by the US) during and after the Holocaust. So where should they go and why should they not be allowed to settle their ancestral homeland?

    June 7, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  2. Matt

    She should have been fired rather than she retiring, she should have retired long ago. Shame on her that she is not willing to apologise for her hate comment,

    June 7, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  3. JeffAB

    At least we have one less member of the liberal press corp.

    June 7, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. jaime

    A lost for free press in USA. Can somebody speak the TRUE?

    June 7, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. matin rubio

    yesssssssssss mrs. hearst is right israel needs to step out of palestine as soon as posible . palestine needs to be free! i understand that israel feel . that palestine is a terrorist country. but pelestine people they deserve to be free .

    June 7, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. Marcia

    Brian...she was not reporting the news when she made the comment. She was being asked a question on the fly and she gave her opinion.

    June 7, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. Edwin Pagan

    Well, now that Helen Thomas is no longer in the employ of an ultra-right status-quo Zionist supporting organization, she can say anything she wishes. Perhaps now we'll have an informed counter-balance to all of Sarah Palin's retarded (yes, that word is the one I meant) ramblings.

    June 7, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. Sleeplessnnc

    Giovanni:
    An "objective" reporter? Are you kidding? Helen calls Al Queda "so-called terrorists? How is that objective? She's entitled to her far left positions, but she certainly is not objective.

    June 7, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. A true old American

    America has become like Russia and Russia, these days became like America. In USA, they will punish you if you tell something from your heart. Talking about 1st amendment?? It's all a joke these days.

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. Sam I Am

    why isn't se entitled to her opinion? She has years of experience. Everyone calling her an old bat, senile etc are just as bad as they think she is. Its not ok to be age-ist while calling someone a bigot or racist..

    Israel had not right to do what they did with such violence. why do they always get a free pass anyway? Are they ever wrong? I have no dog in this race, but it seems that whatever happens Israel is never responsible for any of the problems. in any conflict anywhere in the world with whomever is fighting, its never just a one sided issue.

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Jerry M.

    Joe Stevens you should know better. No matter how venomous and hateful her comment was, she still had every right to say it under a free democracy. This had nothing to do with the so-called Israel Lobby, it simply had to do with exposing her bias as a supposed impartial journalist.

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. Obama the liar

    old as a rock and almost as dumb.

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. yoyolite

    Norris why is it that all the hateful rhetorics spewed is labeled liberal?
    Sounds like pot aclling the kettle black. Heard any tea party speakers, republicans and libertarians lately? The most hatefilled racist groups in America.

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. Ramses

    HT's contraversial remark was not called for. Do not forget that she is of Middle eastern origin probably Labanese. We need a strong Israel in that region & if you look back to History, Israel is the Jewish land & there is absolutely no question about it. Israel has every right to exist in that region as a strong nation & whatever they need to do they ought to do. It is time for HT to retire.

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. Paul

    As a longtime (former) journalist and a Jew, and an American, I support her right to say what she wishes. She has had a tremendous career and I don't believe one comment should obviate that. I'm more dismayed by some of the comments here in regard to Israel, the only democracy in the region. Do you align with totalitarian regimes where violence, suicide bombings, wanton firing of rockets into civilian areas is encouraged?

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  16. C Ford

    By Helen's statement everyone should get the Hell out of America and give it back to the Native Americans. So all you people saying she's right, I'll hold the door for you. Go back to your own original country!

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. Jew-yeah

    Oh, come on. Don't you think that if we Jews really controlled the media, we would have gotten her tuchas fired decades ago? And cancelled the nation's Hearst magazine subscriptions to boot? Helloooo...

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. w

    Funny, she isn't too old – just too liberal.

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  19. Peace

    Who has to send Rush Limbaugh to retirement. He has said more offensive words than Helen did.

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. gene roberts

    She is getting a bit 'olde in the tooth' but she only spoke her views against there being a Jewish State. We don't need the Jews do we?
    Who needs Israel? We should leave it to the Muslims and let them do whatever they want. If the stupid liberals in this country didn't put such restrictoins on offshore drilling necessitating incredibly deep water explorations and if we drilled 3-5 miles offshore we wouldn't be kissing the backsides of oil producing countries that use our money to try to convert us and kill our economy

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. Jackie

    Should Rosa Parks have moved to the back of the bus? She "stood still" for what she believed in, and started a revolution.

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  22. Mikael Audebert

    This is A LOT about nothing. Had she made comments about gays (which were the third largest group to be exterminated during WW2..yet do you see memorials erected everywhere?), blacks, asians or other ethnicities or religions, she would have been left alone. At the end of the day, freedom of speech guarantees EVERYONE to say whatever the hell they want.

    She was in no way out of line expressing her opinion and getting angry over a 6 decade long conflict. Not as if she endorsed Hitler's actions or the killing of jewish people. Get over it Israel, stop being so sensitive about EVERYTHING and FIX the mess the international community created when they gave you Palestine to settle. It's time you show leadership and the will to make it work between your people and the Palestinians!!

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  23. Ogor

    Very regretable that a fine career came to an abrupt end this way. The lesson we all should learn from this is, leave the stage when the ovation is loudest. I am devastated by this slip of thought by this renowned reporter. All the best. Helen!

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. Joanne

    Reporters are to report the news not make it!

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. vegage

    I think she is confused and uneducated about history. Israel has the right to exists in the land that was Judea, but not in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel needs to return those lands to the Palestinian people; they are occupying illegally those lands since the 7 Days war in 1967, which is the reason of the entire jihad we are seeing against US and western courtiers from the radical Muslims. If Israel does that we will finally see peace in this part of the world and US will be better off. In addition, we will not need to send 3 billion per year to Israel from the American taxpayers; we can invest that money in education and green energy here at home.

    June 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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