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. Rob

    Do you christians believe that the Jews are the "chosen" or "God's people". What does that make you then? You say Christ spoke of equality among men and all that good stuff yet you make yourself inferior to the jewish people.

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. lolo

    I actually think she is right. I think that all of the jews should go back to germany and poland. I think that we should demand our land, property, jewels, artwork back. If we don't get it, I think that we should start strapping bombs to ourselves and blowing ourselves up in public places. If we still don't get what we want we should smuggle rockets into germany and poland, and try as hard as we can to kill as many innocent civilians as we can.
    I hope that the governments of germany and poland will show "restraint" with us.

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. Dan

    Maybe she is retiring cause she is a million years old? She has said way harsher things in the past. No one should be shocked by her remarks.

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. Gary

    Dont let the door hit you on the way out. well, on second thought it might knock some sense into you

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. David M.B

    Treating her with such a disrespect because of a comment she made was barbaric and cruel. This is America. we have rights in this country. How come we cannot criticize Israel, what is so holy about Israel that can ruin someone's career.

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. PA Moderate

    In the USA if yo say anything that even comes close to being anti-Israel you WILL be labeled an Anti-semite period. The power and influence of a people that represent single digit % of our population is actually frightening...

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Marty Hyman

    Wow, the antisemitism is like roaches, coming out of the woodwork. Nothing new. Israel should give back the west bank and Gaza when the United States gives back California and Arizona that it won in the war with Mexico.

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. Stu

    She should have retired decades ago.

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. MartinM

    I thought she was Jewish?!?!

    June 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  10. Blad

    This is what bothers me about Americans, your hypocrisy is unbelievable. You can speak freely about pretty much anything except the Jews. Where is the freedom of expression USA brags about and wants to spread around the world?? This is the opinion of this woman and many other, so what?? We have to cruxify her now?
    Israel is nothing but a rock hanging from the USA neck and believe me I don't have amything gainst Jews but I wonder why the US support these guys in the way it does.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  11. Mel

    Israel definitely needs to get out of Palestine, stop destroying their homes and ruining their lives, but saying "go back to your own countries" is a little harsh and definitely anti-Semitic. They need to find a peaceful way to solve this. To come to an agreement with the Palestinians. You can't just steal land and expect people to be happy.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  12. Terry

    hahaha... gotta love it when they force a resignation of someone for speaking their mind... or for BEING HONEST.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. CEA

    She was awesome and always spoke the TRUTH!

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. Wanda

    Offensive maybe. Correct, absolutely! Really now!

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. Davis

    Jews have been living in and around Israel for millenia. "Palestinians" have never had a distinct culture, heritage, ethnicity, or homeland. They're the product of rogue middle eastern countries who have passed them along for decades from country to country and created their refugee status in the first place.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. David Chavez

    I just bought one of her books! All supporters shold do the same.
    lol at all the haters. You can't handle the truth so character assassination is your last resort.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  17. paulbark

    We should be so fortunate with other outspoken anti-Semites. Let them all retire.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  18. Jamie

    It's a shame that she is retiring. Her remarks were the plain, honest truth. I support you Helen! Thanks for saying what so many have only thought. I only have one further comment for anyone who supports the actions of Israel: the oppressed have become the oppressors.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Bill

    Whatever....more important things to worry about.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  20. J

    She didn't just criticize Israeli policy, she called for regional ethnic cleansing. That's unacceptable for any ethnicity – Darfuris, Bosnians, Jews, Kurds, or anyone else.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  21. kennywest

    Freedom of speech only exist as long as we don't say the wrong thing.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  22. B.K

    I know this will never happen, but why don't we just ask the American People if we can set-aside a place in the US for all the Israelis, who are the most productive people on earth, with some of the highest per capita talent in the world. I expect most of the Israelis would go for this idea.Then, we can stop sending $ over there, and hopefully appease the entire Arab world, which seems to be the big deal – they clearly want Israel gone from that region of the world. Sound ridiculous ? – hello – this problem is NEVER going away!

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. Rob

    The Jewish lobby in this country own yours and mines rights people. Us Americans are just subjects of Israel.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  24. TheMovieFan

    No surprise here.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. Rolland E.

    Anyone who criticizes Israel is called an anti-semite.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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