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. Steve

    I feel sorry for her . She is obviously in the early stages of dementia.

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. Geof

    It's about time...for decades we had to listen to this shutter mouth,,,OMG is she really leaving...it's about time.

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. aubrie

    Well thank God!! It was long overdue. For being a high level reporter, she certainly missed the "big picture" regarding the imporatnce of maintaining the security of Israel. I'm actually dumbfounded at the number of Americans supporting the PALESTINIANS in all of this. ???Do you not read history? Do you not get it?

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. Marge

    I think she was very useful in her time. But I think at her age she does not have the responses and outlook to continue. We saw that in her statement. And Boy I can say that about being old and not being predjuice because I am 78.

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. NoWay

    About time someone says something to Israel. They have been sitting illegally on OCCUPIED land far to long!

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. jew

    Good for you Helen!! . . . you're absolutely right! . . . . finally someone in the media had balls enough to tell it to the world.
    yES they have to leave the Palest... land

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. Get A Grip

    One far left journalist down.....many more to go.

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Giovani F

    To bad....anohter objective reporter gone...if you don't like they she thinks then you should pack up and go back to Europe or wherever you evil ancestors came from...you know the ones who raped and killed the natives and took their land that you used slaves to build...no wonder you have to stand with Israel cause you are devils just like them...this obviously doesn't apply to the masses of Americans like myslef who just want to live in peace and doesn't want $10 billion of my tax dollars to go to Israel that they will never pay back while KAtrina victims are still waiting for help...pathetic...wake up AMERICA

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. KoolKat

    Honestly, this is so typical. The problem is so many people are afraid to speak their mind and they get treated the way she is. People need to stop being so sensitive. Welcome to the real world where everyone is entitled to their opinion rather its right or wrong. I give her props for speaking up, and not caring. Its unfortunate that because everyone is so critical she was forced into "Retirement". Which we all know how that goes.

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  10. Laurie

    I think it was awful what she said. Nevertheless, I think we should respect her age and the fact that she wants to work as an older adult. She has apologized (and probably needs to again and again). But, we should also have some grace and give her the same consideration that you would your aging parent or grandparent. We are a country of second, third, and so on chances. Give her the right to redeem herself and work if she still wants to.

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  11. Stacie

    I am a liberal, and I agree that she had to go. These comments were waaaaay out of bounds! I agree with Ari F., can you imagine what would (and should) happy to anyone in the press corps who said all Black people should go back to Africa?!?!

    A very sad ending to a long career. And, Bill, you are so wrong! How dare you attempt to say what is in someone else's heart!

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. Moi

    "she was right, the illegal creation of this country"

    Sort of like if she said that all the occupiers of America need to go home and get off the Indians' land, right?

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. orion

    Can't help but wonder if there is some senility for a veteran journalist to make such an outrageous public comment. It's a shame that a career as distinguished as Thomas' has to end on such a note.

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. Skip Roads

    "You should remember, these people are occupied." – THANKS FOR SPEAKING THE TRUTH, HELEN

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. joe stevens

    Ridiculous the kind of pressure the Israeli lobby still has in America. There might be free speech in this country but there is no free speech with respect to Israel. Any kind of comment will be overly scrutinized, and if it is not favorable to Israel you may find yourself fired, or retired as a result.

    June 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Enough of the childish games already! Get a clue, this woman is 89 years old and obviously waaay beyond her retirement age and getting senile.

    However her remarks about Jews invading Palestine are basically correct and a fact which is always conveniently ignored by the media. In fact, if one doesn't do their own research or study history after 1945 – it would seem like the Palestinians were never even in Israel.

    June 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Kathleen

    About time.

    June 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. Babyfacemagee

    Best news I've heard all month. Helen has a history of being blatantly pro-muslim and anti-israel and anti-US in her reporting and rhetoric. Her descendants are Lebanese and she didn't have the professionalism to separate her personal beliefs from her professional work. Anyone that has followed Helen's career saw the blatant bias she promoted over the decades. Good riddance. Maybe we can get a competent reporter in to replace her.

    June 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. John

    What happened to freedom of speech?

    June 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. John

    I have admired Helen Thomas for many years. Today, I continue to admire her for her work and for being her own person. Her opinion regarding the mess in the Middle East is personal and she is entitled to have a personal opinion. The manner in which the Israelies have gone about dealing with Gaza and Lebanon has not been fair, just and humane. I understand that they, the Israelies, must maintain a high level of security to survive but there are limits which they should impose on themselves in the name of humanity. Promulgating inhumane treatment of other humans is not the way to earn respect from any other group of people.

    June 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. Trowsh

    I really wish people would use terms correctly

    Semite:
    1 a : a member of any of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs

    Anti-Semite is not anti Israel its anti middle east.

    At least Helen didnt hide behind politcaL correctness. Israel has had a chip on their shoulder since time began. I chose to ignore the whole region, let their mythical God and Alla sort it out. Peace only comes by refusing violence, no matter what the cost

    June 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  22. Joe

    Helen did not "reveal" herself to be anti-Semitic. She revealed herself to be a ninety year old woman who is suffering from predictable lapses of judgment, memory, and common sense. It's sad that her career has to end this way. Her comments were indeed outrageous but have to be considered in the context of her advanced age.

    June 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  23. Hannah

    She was critisized not because of her comments on Israel, but because of her statement that Jews should go back to Germany, where 6 million were killed. It's a hateful statement and I'm glad she is being forced to resign. It's fine to condone Israel, but no need to call for the deportation of all Jews!

    June 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. nicole

    Helen speaks the words that many in the world are starting to feel...Israel occupies and oppresses the Palestinians...and now kills innocent humanitarians in cold blood-it makes one wonder what kind of government did the world allow to be created in Israel...she has a right to speak what she feels...but God forbid you have ill feelings towards the racists policies of Israel...Thanks for being brave Helen and holding many Presidents accountable for their corruption and lies.

    June 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. Bruno

    Now if we could get all the members of the administration who have ever said something stupid to just go away...we would be good!!!

    June 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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