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. Rico

    What a way to go

    June 7, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Michael O'Brien

    Helen Thomas should not have been forced to retire but doing so should not diminish her distinguished career as a journalist. Her comments were her own and were in fact historically and morally correct. If Helen is forced to retire than Fox News should be shuttered for completely shredding the established Code of Journalism Ethics.

    June 7, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. Larry

    Wow. We all know reporters are not allowed to have their own opinions, and Heart's actions simply reinforce that they want non-thinking info-babes, not reporters.

    June 7, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. E. Garcia

    About time that old bat retired! People who have lost sense of their faculties should not be give a public stage!

    June 7, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Mike S

    Would be nice to know what she said. If it was something discriminatory, fine, she should be gone. However, valid criticism of Israeli policy and action does not make one an Anit-Semite.

    June 7, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. John D

    If you speak against israel or Jews you are anti semitic, what are you if you speak against muslims? There doesn't seem to be a word for it. It is just accepted.

    Helen Thomas is a brave woman who is standing up against the occupation of the palestinians, she just expressed herself the wrong way.

    You have my support Helen Thomas and I hope that you continue to speak out against the atrocities that are being committed against the Palestinians!

    June 7, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. Not surprised the media machine abhors free speech/free think

    It's despicable that Hearst decided to "retire" Helen Thomas for speaking her mind.

    It's a fascist world we live in, where people can't speak their own truths.

    Shame on Hearst, Ari F, and the rest of the pro-Israel hypocrites around the globe.

    June 7, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. Mike

    Calling for genocide is a pretty serious thing. Good riddance.

    June 7, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Fouad

    She shouldn't retire just because she expressed her personal opinion on a twisty situation,in Palestine and Israel, but being in a biased coutry of ours (USA), she had to backtrack and say sorry.

    June 7, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. NORRIS

    Its about time. This woman is senile and doesnt know her history either. But this is typical for liberals. They make things up as they go.

    June 7, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. kanan

    It is very apparent that her remarks were hate speech and completely out of bounds for any type of jorunalist or a human being to spit out that kind of diatribe. Its one thing to protest and speak against Israel'a atrocities and blockade against the Palestinians and it is completely unacceptable to spew venom filled with hate speech. She should have been fired.

    June 7, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Joecooool

    Just goes to show you how much power the Jewish lobby holds in this country. Speak out against Israel and prepare to get pulled through the ringer.

    Never mind the fact that what she said was historically accurate, no our overlords have determined that we will support Israel come hell, high water, or airplanes flying into our towers.

    The only thing wrong with this is the fact that she didn't have the courage to stand by her convictions. Shame on her for apologizing.

    June 7, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Good...she needed to go...she is older than dirt

    June 7, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. Musthave

    This old hag knew the end was near.Big mouths like her can never show indifference to either party.

    June 7, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. Tamara

    Its about time!! I've been waiting for this moment for ages. She is always biased in her reporting and watching her at the press briefings made my stomach churn. She always asked very one sided questions and her retirement should have happened years ago.

    June 7, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. rik

    Her own fault!

    June 7, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. Wayne

    Unfortunately she will always be remembered for this. Much like Jimmy "the Greek" is remembered for his racist remarks.

    June 7, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. armadillos

    Right...now...people are so happy to say that she is anti semitic. Wait... she's lebanese. FAIL

    Ohh...and people said "never liked her." Douches are like saying this when they've never even knew her before the incident.

    what about free speech???

    You Go HELEN

    June 7, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Tim from NC

    Good, now will the lib's come out publicly or will they hide in the holes?????? I bet the hypocrites will be silent on this one...... so lib's remeber, the next time a conservative says something stupid, keep your trap shut because you just gave up the right to critize anyone......

    June 7, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  20. At least not officially

    There is no truth to the rumor that she will serve as spokesman of Hamas.

    June 7, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I guess it is her only dignified way out given her blantant lies about the history of the Middle East. I would have preferred her to be fired! If she new her history even remotely, then she would have know that Jews have been in the land of Israel well before the Arabs were Arabs and Muslims (when they were believers in many gods). I guess she flunked history like the Arabs have. If she was correct that the Jews never lived there, then why is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? Why do Christians go to Israel to trace the path of Jesus? The answer is simple - Jews were there first!

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. AmericanFlag

    Pretty scary when you can't even express an opinion without retribution.

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  23. Tim

    Ever heard of freedom of speech? Her views are hers. Besides, the Palestinians were there first, now they have been herded up and sent to camps, sound familiar?

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. Sue

    Hmm, so it's OK to actually keep the Palestinians out, in refugee camps as Israel has done for decades, and to say they should leave, as many supporters of Israel do, but not OK to say the Jews should leave?

    Sure, Helen shot off at the mouth a bit. Those of us who are tired of the ridiculous, blind imbalance inherent in the American approach to the middle east get frustrated. I'm sorry she said what she did, but it is NOT NEARLY AS BAD as how Israel treats Palestinian families EVERY DAY.

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  25. isntitgreat

    Helen is a dinosaur. She is past her time and outlived her contemporaries. She had a good run but now needs to do what dinosaurs do.

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
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