R.I.P., Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas: 4 August 1920 – 20 July 2013

Long-time White House reporter and journalist, Helen Thomas, passed away today following a long illness. She was 92 years old. She interviewed a number of U.S. presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, George W. Bush, and Barack H. Obama. The BBC reports:

“Helen Thomas, a trailblazing journalist who covered the White House for nearly five decades, has died aged 92.

She died at her Washington apartment after a long illness, the Gridiron Club, Washington’s historic press organisation, said.

Ms Thomas covered the administrations of 10 presidents and was known for asking difficult questions.

She was a fixture at White House news conferences and considered a pioneer for women in journalism.

Veteran NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell tweeted that Helen Thomas “made it possible for all of us who followed”.

Questioning was ‘torture’

Born to Lebanese immigrants in Kentucky in 1920, Helen Thomas found her calling while working for her student newspaper at school.

She started out as a copy girl for a small Washington newspaper before moving to the United Press (UPI) wire service with whom she covered the presidential campaign of John F Kennedy.

Following Kennedy’s election, the huge demand for stories about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy helped Ms Thomas secure her place within the White House press corps.”

It’s interesting to note that her career “ended under a cloud” after her comments about Israeli Jews and Palestine. Lush Dimbulb and Lard-arse Deen get book deals and shitloads of money for insulting Black people, but Helen Thomas is disgraced for her honest opinion about a country that is near her parents’ homeland…go figure! More from Al-Jazeera:

“In her long career, she was indelibly associated with the ritual ending White House news conferences.

She was often the one to deliver the closing line: “Thank you, Mister. President” – four polite words that belied a fierce competitive streak.

Her disdain for White House secrecy and dodging spanned five decades, back to President John F Kennedy.

Her freedom to voice her peppery opinions as a speaker and a Hearst columnist came late in her career.

The Bush administration marginalised her, clearly peeved with a journalist who had challenged President George W Bush to his face on the Iraq war and declared him the worst president in history.

In 2009 she asked President Barack Obama, “When are you going to get out of Afghanistan? Why are we continuing to kill and die there? What is the real excuse and don’t give us this Bushism ‘If we don’t go there, they’ll all come here.'”

Pioneer journalist

Thomas was assigned to the White House in 1961 by UPI in part because of the great interest in first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, as well as the new young president.

She would go on to become the dean of the White House media corps and her front-row centre chair in the briefing room eventually had a plaque with her name, the only seat so designated.

Thomas grew up in Detroit, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants.

Middle Eastern affairs were a strong interest and impromptu comments about Israel and the Palestinians in May 2010 were her undoing.

Asked by an interviewer from the website rabbilive.com if she had any comments about Israel, Thomas responded, “Get the hell out of Palestine”.

She said “Remember, [the Palestinian] people are occupied, and it’s their land.”

To me, she represents what real journalism and reporting used to be. You find none of that straightforward honesty anymore – so-called ‘reporters’ and ‘journalists’ are nothing more than plastic talking-heads regurgitating self-made headlines…that fiasco with the San Francisco TV station getting trolled and pwned into reporting racist, fake names of the Asiana pilots says it all!

I wanted to be a reporter when I was younger; this is why I went into the radio industry during high school, but it became rapidly apparent that honesty and truth weren’t valued qualities for a reporter. True journalism died the day the 24-hour ‘news cycle’ came into vogue, and all we see today is the animated, rotting corpse of something that used to be grand.

Rest in peace, Helen – you were the last, true, published journalist. Those of us who still exist will never be allowed to attain your legendary level…sad, no?

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