Helen Thomas, the 89-year-old veteran White House correspondent, who has covered every president since Dwight Eisenhower, has retired as columnist for Hearst Newspapers because of controversial remarks made on May, 27, 2010, about the need for Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine” and return to Poland and Germany.
“Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately,” a Hearst Newspapers statement said. “Her decision came after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet.”
The decision to retire came as Thomas faced rebuke from nearly every corner after video of her remarks during an interview with RabbiLive.com’s Rabbi David Nesenoff emerged online late last week.
Watch Video of Helen Thomas Comments on Jews
“Those remarks were offensive and reprehensible,” Gibbs said during the Monday briefing, adding that Thomas’s remarks “do not reflect certainly most of the people here and certainly not those of the administration.” Thomas did not attend Monday’s briefing and journalists, perhaps sensing the closing of an era, were spotted taking pictures of Thomas’ empty front row.
Thomas, who transitioned from reporter to columnist in 2000 but kept her front-row seat at White House briefings, had come under fire for her statement that Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine” and that Jews in Israeli should return to Germany, Poland, or the US.
Thomas apologized for the comments, saying:
“I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. 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.”
The White House Monday called Thomas’ remarks “offensive and reprehensible.”
“Helen Thomas’ comments were indefensible and the White House Correspondents Association board firmly dissociates itself from them,” the WHCA said in a statement. “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 trail blazer on the White House beat.”
The WHCA statement added that the incident “does revive the issue of whether it is appropriate for an opinion columnist to have a front row seat in the WH briefing room.”
Source: Huffington Post, Politico