published Monday, June 7th, 2010

White House criticizes Thomas for Israel remarks, Thomas retirement announced

WASHINGTON — Controversial remarks about Israel by veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas drew sharp criticism from the Obama administration on Monday, as well as the cancellation of a high school graduation speech she was to deliver.

Monday afternoon, the Hearst News Service reported that Thomas announced her retirement.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked at his daily briefing with reporters about President Barack Obama's reaction to Thomas' remarks. Gibbs called them "offensive and reprehensible."

Thomas, a columnist for Hearst Newspapers, has apologized for comments that were captured on video by an interviewer for the website On the May 27 video, Thomas says Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine," suggesting they go to Germany, Poland or the U.S.

"She should and has apologized," Gibbs said. "Because obviously those remarks do not reflect certainly the opinion of most of the people here and certainly not of the administration."

Thomas had been scheduled to speak at the June 14 graduation of Walt Whitman High School in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Md., but Principal Alan Goodwin wrote in a Sunday e-mail to students and parents that she was being replaced.

"Graduation celebrations are not the venue for divisiveness," Goodwin wrote.

Thomas wrote on her website that "I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians."

She added: "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 national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman, said Sunday that Thomas' apology didn't go far enough.

"Her suggestion that Israelis should go back to Poland and Germany is bigoted and shows a profound ignorance of history," Foxman said in a statement. "We believe Thomas needs to make a more forceful and sincere apology for the pain her remarks have caused."

Thomas, 89, began her long career with the wire service United Press International in 1943, and started covering the White House in 1960, according to a biography posted on her website. She became a columnist for Hearst in 2000.

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TNborn said...

Make no mistake - this particular journalist would NEVER have 'retired'. She's 89. If she wanted to retire, she would have done so already. She is devoted to her career and hasn't left her post so far. She is one of the most respected journalists in American history. Regardless of what she said, it is a shame that the Whitehouse can get ANY journalist fired. What has happened to the 'free press' that America is so proud of?

June 7, 2010 at 2:11 p.m.
GeorgiaRebel said...

The White house didn't get her fired. Her stupidity, haughtiness, bigotry, and hatred got her in trouble. Hearst would have fired her, if she had not resigned first.

She has always been an egotistical bigot and it is fitting that her ego and big mouth was the source of her downfall.

June 7, 2010 at 3:31 p.m.
librul said...

Oh yeah - Georgia Rebels preaching on bigotry. Gag.


June 7, 2010 at 10:07 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Scratch most any progressive like Helen Thomas and underneath you'll find a fascist, liberal bigot.

June 7, 2010 at 10:49 p.m.
hcirehttae said...

People of all political persuasions should not make off-the-cuff, sound-bite assertions. Nobody really wants to hear someone's opinion or analysis that's been thought out for all of 0.25 seconds; it's like school children shouting at each other on the playground. I certainly don't want this country's policies or society's level of understanding determined in this way. Can we step back from the "gotcha" game, speak deliberately after careful thought, and listen closely before responding?

June 8, 2010 at 5:33 a.m.

While it's true that EVERY citizen in this country, including the press, has the right of free speech, I agree with GeorgiaRebel that her arrogance, pride and big mouth got her fired, she did it to herself. One thing I read was that it was Hearst who censured her and then "asked" her to retire. Long overdue and wished for by many.

Respected in America? By a minority of similar Haters, yes.

Helen, as the Pagans would say, has long passed her 'Hag' status and is now to be exiled to her private domain, to ruminate on her sins and other shortcomings in Life. Lord willing, she will repent, for no one knows, do they, just what and whose blood runs through their veins, and just how 'pure' it really is nowadays?

In my neck o' the woods, we like to say, 'ya never know if there's a gentile in the woodpile. Or vice versa'.

June 8, 2010 at 1:28 p.m.
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