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. Anonymous

    Long overdue.
    Controversial and opinionated is one thing; however this woman lost it decades ago.
    What did Mr. Gump's mama say? "YOU CAN'T OUTGROW CRAZY."

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  2. john

    its not the fact that she is an anti semite, thats been known for 30 years, its the fact that she said that all the jews should pack up and leave, that is what crossed the line

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. Jon

    She's right, Israel needs to leave Palestine! its never been about Israels security, its always been about land.

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  4. Kim

    If a conservative columnist had said what she said, they would have been fired immediately, and the outrage around the country would have been immense! What's good for conservatives if good for liberals too! You won't be missed Helen!

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. Patriot1960

    Anyone else want to deny the power a certain people have over our very lives?

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  6. Dave S

    At least she was honest about her hatred unlike most Liberal reporters.

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. chris l

    I agree with her figuratively if not literally. It's frustrating for America always having to act as a nursemaid for a petulant child(Israel).

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    Good for her – now she can be an independent columnist and probably make more money – part-time.

    I think Ari Flescher should retire too. After all, he was the mouth-piece for the Administraton that has admitted publicly to torturing prisoners, and unless I'm mistaken, that is criminal.

    Where is the outrage at the blatant breaking of the Geneva Convention and the rules we followed since the beginning of this country? So far, I'm the only one complaining, and sometmes it gets "moderated out" (all day Sunday).

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  9. justin

    ok to all these people slamming helen thomas. Where do you live. I live in the United States of America. If you live in the USA you have something called the constitution. In this constitution you have the right to FREEDOM OF SPEACH!!! And how dare anyone demand her resignation over what she said. You may not like what she said. Yes you can express your disagreement. But I guess we only have that freedom til someone says something you don't like. She has the right to say how she felt about whatever she felt.

    June 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Vaughn

    I won't try to justify what she said, or defend it, however it pains me that a lifelong career of journalism can be so easily brought down by one comment. I understand that when you are in the public eye, it's imperative that you are careful about what you say, but it seems that there is no forgiveness when it comes to a slip-up.

    I misspeak all the time, but I am not in the public eye so it doesn't matter. Ms. Thomas and every other public figure are human, just as much as their critics are human. Is it so necessary to end a career and a long-standing reputation based on one comment?

    June 7, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. whinter

    god bless her

    June 7, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. Eber

    Well she sure did a huge mistake. That land belongs to the Hebrew since Our Lord gave to Abraham a long time ago. For a someone like her its a big mistake. She should know better.

    June 7, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. Steve in North Carolina

    Good riddance. She has always been an embarrassment.

    June 7, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. RT

    Good....she is the problem with today's journalism!

    June 7, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. ttocs

    well, there you go...that shows you. NEVER go against the Jewish (Zionist) Lobby. this would have been a non-issue if she had told Turkey to get out of Cyprus. wow – end of an era. farewell Helen, we will miss you and your candid and honest opinions, regardless of their political correctness.

    June 7, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Adam

    Talk about an overreaction. What Helen said was not anti-semitic. Her comments reflect the view of many Americans who question the beneficial nature of our present relationship with Israel. It was an off-camera moment where we stated her own personal views. Just because you disagree with Israel's view or version of history doesn't make you wish for Israel's destruction or mean that you are anti-Jew. I think it's sad that she is retiring; given her upstanding career and it seems likely that it was due to this uproar.

    Helen I salute you. Thank you for your service.

    June 7, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  17. Middle American

    HT ceased to be a "reporter/journalist" a long time ago. What took so long?

    June 7, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. Jonny C

    About 25 years past her prime.

    June 7, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  19. elmer

    It's about 89 years too late.

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. Kamau

    fired for telling the truth...calling an occupier an occupier..wow...I am glad she was fired...now maybe she will be free to tell it like it is...

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. james

    I think the issue here is that many believe that most Jews in Israel are not Semitic Jews, but are instead people of European ancestry whose families converted to the Jewish faith many centuries ago. Thus, the argument that they should give the land back to a true Semitic race (the Arabs of Palestine) who have lived on the land throughout written history.

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. Marcia

    At least she had the guts to tell the truth! The truth that they don't want the rest of the Western world to know.

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. Scared

    Let's get this straight. Any political opinion that is against Israel's occupation of Palestine is anti-Semitic, and any expression of such opinion should be drowned out by calls that the speaker, even if her reputation had been built over decades, is a bigot??? Nice freedom of speech and fostering of a diverse marketplace of ideas. I sure hope I never say anything about a foreign country that someone else doesn't agree with.

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Helen was on her way out when she prevously spoke out against Bush in her last press conference with President Obama, she knew it and she just put the nail in the coffin.

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. stewpapa

    good riddence

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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