Bye, Bye, Helen Thomas

Monday, June 7, 2010

As I covered here, Helen Thomas--member of the White House Press Corps for decades--made some racist, ignorant comments about Jewish people. Her advice was that they "get the hell out of Palestine."

Earlier today, I read that she was disinvited from speaking at Walt Whitman High School graduation. You can read the Washington Post story on that here.

Later, the price of her remarks went up drastically--and fittingly. She has now resigned amidst comments condemning her racist rant. Governor Palin was the first person I heard condemn Thomas's words and her prejudice, calling them "unconscionable indecency." Following her lead, others became vocal. Read the Governor's thoughts on the matter here and here., in their article "Helen Thomas to Retire 'Effective Immediately' Following Uproar Over 'Palestine' Comments," reported a sampling of criticism that followed Governor Palin's (emphasis added):

Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas announced her retirement Monday following an uproar over comments she made last month about Jews in Israel.

Hearst Corporation, which employed Thomas as a columnist, put out a brief story via Hearst News Service announcing the retirement "effective immediately."

The announcement came after the White House Correspondents Association decried her remarks as "indefensible" and began to consider whether Thomas should continue to have the privilege of a front-row seat in the briefing room. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called her remarks "offensive and reprehensible" on Monday, as other former White House spokesmen called for Thomas to be fired.

The announcement Monday marked an abrupt end to a career that has spanned decades. Thomas, known as the dean of the White House press corps, has covered every president since Dwight Eisenhower. Her 90th birthday is Aug. 4.


Lanny Davis, former special counsel to and White House spokesman for President Bill Clinton, said the apology "was not direct and didn't address the merits of her belief in the stereotype that Jews are aliens in Israel and don't belong there."


Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush's press secretary, said her comments amounted to a call for "religious cleansing." He told Fox News before the announcement that Thomas should lose her job over the comments.

"This goes beyond all boundaries," Fleischer said. "When you advocate that people need to be separated on the basis of their religion ... this is hatred, this is bigotry, this is prejudice."

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said her comments were "outrageous" and urged her to make a "more forceful" apology.

"Her suggestion that Israelis should go back to Poland and Germany is bigoted and shows a profound ignorance of history," he said in a written statement.


"Her comments were so offensive to so many, so personally hurtful, and they would not have been tolerated by anybody else," [Dan Perino] said.

Just minutes before Hearst announced Thomas' retirement, the White House Correspondents Association issued a statement saying the organization "firmly dissociates from (her remarks)."


Thomas has a long history of anti-Israel rhetoric at White House press briefings. Last week at a briefing with Gibbs that followed a flotilla raid by Israeli commandos, Thomas called the raid a "deliberate massacre" and "an international crime."

"What is the sacrosanct, iron-clad relationship where a country that deliberately kills people and boycotts -- and we aid and abet the boycott?" she asked.

Well, now this aspect of Helen Thomas's career is history, as it very well should be. Read the full article here.


Ragnar Danneskj√∂ld June 8, 2010 at 8:55 AM  

Hi, Love your blog, but could you please stop using the word "racist" until you understand it's meaning. By people continually using it incorrectly it has lessened the true meaning, and when real "racism" occurs, and one correctly calls it what it is, the effect is lessened due to overuse, and misuse. Sorry to be so picky, but nothing Helen Thomas said was "racist", just ignorant, and stupid was suffice.

Adrienne Ross June 8, 2010 at 11:30 AM  

Ragnar, thanks for commenting. I find it hilarious that you would state that I of all people don't know the meaning of racism!

Thomas didn't resign because her comment was merely stupid. She was pushed out because it was racist. I call it as a see it. It was a racist rant. As an English teacher, I am careful about language, so I am well aware of what I said. I meant it.

Glad you like my blog. Take care.

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