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. John D

    Good riddance...!

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. Frank

    HURRY! About time these so-called objective reporters are exposed for what they really are ... "Left-wing nuts!"

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. Zelda Rabinowitz

    I find it hard to believe that this wonderfully independent and objective lady wasn't "invited" to retire because of her insightful views.

    Thanks for your many years of service to the people of the United States, Helen.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  4. Dave

    Just another example of the standing gag order against anything critical of Israel. Keep speaking your mind, Helen!

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. Wis. Kevin

    You have to remember that she lived way before there was ever an Isreal. Her coments are based on her experience that Isreal is really a made up country on a map. Dont know what the world would loook like without Isreal ever being created but I would think we would have fewer conflicts

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. John

    The woman says something that alot of people have probably thought about before and now she gets railroaded. This country is so ridiculous sometimes.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. Patriot1960

    Please tell me how her comments were anti-semitic

    1.A member of a group of Semitic-speaking peoples of the Near East and northern Africa, including the Arabs, Arameans, Babylonians, Carthaginians, Ethiopians, Hebrews, and Phoenicians.
    2.A Jew.
    3.Bible. A descendant of Shem.

    June 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  8. Ted K.

    How can Ms. Thomas be labeled an Anti-Semite? She is, afterall arab-descent, and to those of you who are illiterate – arabs and jews are both SEMITES.

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. Duane

    Well at least she knew when to bow out, beats what some of the others in D.C. are doing.

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. MJ

    amazing the influence 2% of the population wields!

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  11. Paul

    It's about time! Good riddance!

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Malbi

    I love it how people defend freedom of speech or speak of moral integrity when the pertinent statement suits their bias. How convenient.

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. Wedding Guru

    Helen: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  14. Tim

    they are calling her a raciest and everyone is now treating her like she has the plague. She apologized for offending, but she is being treated like a leapor because she gave her opinion. It was not said in a mean way, she said they should leave it is dangerous there for the Jews. They should get out, they are not wanted there and they are treated horribly. This is just another example of how FREEDOM OF SPEACH does not exist anymore. Yeah you can say what you want, but you are going top be forced out fired or ostracized over your opinion. People of America need to wake up and take notice, we are loosing our rights faster than you can think about it. This country needs to wake up and see this.

    Helen Thomas will be missed in her position and it is a shame that such a long and wonderful career now has to end with something as simple as stating an opinion.

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  15. Tracy

    If someone asked this old bag if the illegal aliens should go back to Mexico, I wonder what she would say?

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. LevelHeaded

    The comment of "Go back home' was distasteful. Clearly a case of anti-semitism, and same for those who support all her comments. The issue of Gaza still remains.

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    This is certainly not a country of free speech anymore.

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  18. Richard

    For her punishment, Helen Thomas should be 'FIRED' ASAP instead of being 'retired' for saying bad things about the Jews and she sure doesn't deserve any pensions due to her,

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. toby

    Would love to read how her jewish friends and colleagues view her now or did they always see her as an anti-semitic jewish hating old bag! Good riddance Helen – the early bird special awaits you in Florida!

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Jeff

    What happened to " Free Speech" ?

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. pat

    if people don't speak out against the collective punishment that Israel has imposed on a group of people ,How can the United States speak out against any other Police State Run Country ? Jewish women don't have any rights either, back to the last seats in the bus,can't stand in the same line as males ,must be covered at all times . Israel is a Police State. I'm ashamed of Israel as she has become what she once fought against.

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  22. Amit

    This anti-Semitic "reporter" should have been fired a long time ago. She has been working on her own agenda for years.

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. midnightrambler444

    The woman has been irrelevant for decades. I won't even discuss the validity/stupidity of her statements but to say: don't mess with the jewish people in the news/entertainment world. Tsk Tsk. But seriously, why was she even still there? Because she was intimate with FDR?

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. frances

    I have always liked Helen Thomas and admired her courage in asking tough questions. She made a mistake with her remarks about Israel and, in my opinion, was wrong. However, she has served our country well trying to cover political and world situations. I think she deserves more at her age than all of the mean criticism that she is receiving. I wish her well with her retirement.

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. tvp

    You can invoke all the first amendment rights you want, but that doesn't guarantee you employment. Sometimes you have to decide if it's worth it to run your mouth. And hello, she was leaving a Jewish Heritage Month event? You're welcome for the free lunch, Helen. Buh-bye.

    June 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
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