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

Helen Thomas has retired, Hearst announces


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. Sam

    Like her or hate her...and believe it or not, she was right. Maybe not the best place and time to make those comments, and certainly not appropriate comments for what should have been an objective journalist, but what she said is correct.

    June 7, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. RJP3

    She spoke her non-PC opinion.
    For that she must be punished.

    Land of the free – my backside.

    June 7, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Shannon

    Israel is a terrorist state, kills innocent civillians and never recognizes international laws and rules. Obama should earn his noble prize and stop backing israel. It's a burden and shame of US!

    June 7, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  4. Andy

    Thank God she still has her looks.

    June 7, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. Mustafa Syed

    Joe Stevens – U ARE SO RITE – Look at Mel Gibson! hello anybody remmeber him? what happened to him after he spoke to against Jews! ?

    June 7, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. IntlSeensta

    Wow, so much for freedom of speech in this country. If anyone said the same thing about Muslims no one would give it a second thought. The media in this country is so pro-Israel slanted that American public has no idea what's going on in that part of the world. I don't agree in the least with what she said, but it is vitally important that Americans understand that there are TWO sides to what is going on over there. Unfortunately this is yet another example of how efforts to show the Palestinian plight continue to be silenced. This is blatant censorship.

    June 7, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. LAChris

    This is ridiculous for someone with such a long and noted career. She speaks her mind and gets shut off ... can't anyone speak their minds anymore without having to dance around the pro-Israel lobby?

    June 7, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. John King

    Give the old lady a break.

    June 7, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. kd

    She's been in the business a long time, and shouldn't be surprised at the consequences of offering her own opinion on this particular issue. She has the privilege of getting a wide audience for her own views.

    If deportation is Helen's solution, maybe all non-native Americans should be sent back to our respective homelands, considering the number of Native Americans that have been butchered in the name of American freedom. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is simply more recent than so many other similar situations (and Americans like to forget our own embarrassing history of conquest and murder). Or, maybe history has shown us that deportation usually doesn't work (and is often the beginning of something MUCH WORSE), and hopefully, eventually, we can find a better solution.

    June 7, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. John H.

    She should know better than to question our masters. You can get a pass for making a comment about any other country, but when it comes to Israel that's where we draw the line. Best send an extra $12,000,000,000 to them this year to make up for it.

    June 7, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Dave

    Did a prior post call Helen Thomas "objective"? I just spit my drink up.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. JIm

    My problem with Ms Thomas -and many current reporters as well- is that they sacrifice professionalism and objectivity for getting a news story out. Long before she formally became an opinion columnist, she could not write an objective, factual story.

    I wonder what her feelings are about other groups such as African-Americans and Hispanics.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. Clive

    So much for the ever misquoted jargon called FREE speech, or is it only FREE when it's palatable to the listener of choice. Chalk another knotch on the hypocrisy rung of the human chameleon. Helen, you were welcomed until you utter the truth. Sorry to see you go.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. Kevin Moore

    Scripture says: "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." We can always put on a facade, but sooner or later, whatever is truly in our hearts comes to light.
    You can blame it on age, political leanings, etc. She does have the right to her own opinion, but bigotry has no place anywhere, much less in journalism, which by it's own description is supposed to be objective.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. Jack

    Most of the people commenting here did not hear what she said. She called for the expulsion of all Jews from the state of Israel and deportation back "home". Germany, Poland and the US as well. This is "old school" antisemitism, plain and simple and should not be tolerated. Good riddance, and I hope this is what she will be remembered for. If she said that all Mexicans should be sent back to Mexico, and all blacks be sent back to Africa, she would and should be fired as well. As a land of immigrants, we need to be sensitive to such hate.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. sawdust8

    I lost my sympathy for the Jews and very tired of their tantrum acts. Enough is enough. There is nothing angel about the Jews and Israel. Listen Jews, who ever you are, Semite or not, you have the same privilege as anyone else on earth. SO, SHUT YOUR HELL HOLE AND GET OUT OF GAZA AND PALESTINES.

    I agree with Joe Steven, the whole U.S Congress and Supreme Court are 90% taken by Jews. If we do not balance them out with other races, Jews will bring more troubles to America due to their provocative attitudes.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  17. rob

    Hey comments were disguesting. I don't care how old she is, or whatever, that doesn't give you a right to say such ignorent, hurtful things.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  18. truthsayer

    Umm, all you whiners saying she deserves respect and another chance, where were you when Trent Lott was losing his job? Or Jimmy the Greek? Or Al Campanis? Typical lefty hypocrites.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  19. D. Kammer

    Hey Laurie: nice age-ism, Ms. PC. Them old folks - too doddering and dodgey to be held responsible for what they say - god bless 'em!!

    Hey all of you dupes who think there's no such thing as lib bias in the MSM: Helen Thomas is the "dean" of white house press corps eh?

    Can't make this stuff up.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. frank

    If she say -Black must go to Africa- the hell will broke loseeeeeee.
    She is better go to m.east and stay there. She so STUPIT.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. Dot

    It's is ok for her to say what she said, but had she mentioned the blacks go back to Africa, how would that have gone over? Seriously. Tell me Iran and Turkey would not do the same to protect their country from terrorists. Only America would not do it because of political correctness. We need a President to protect our country, not apologize for it.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. Janet

    Helen was a journalist, a reporter. Glen Beck is a COMMENTATOR....he doesn't claim to be a hard-hitting news journalist who is paid to be objective. Commentators are in a totally different ballgame.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. Patty

    Miss Thomas is a reporter. Glenn Beck is not. Glenn Beck is an entertainer who promotes his opinion. Fox does not list his show as a news show. Brian, you are comparing apples to oranges. Miss Thomas should keep her opinions to herself and Glenn Beck is free to say what he wants.

    June 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
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