The controversy has reached its ultimate end, with Thomas announcing today she will retire.
I have to feel a little sad at this news. While I have not been a fan of Thomas for some time, she has been an institution at the White House for half a century and that is a pretty big deal.
My bigger regret is that in recent years she allowed her partisanship to mar a long period of service.
NOTE: Due to a system glitch this post appeared earlier but vanished. It is being reposted now.
UPDATE: There will be a lot of it coming in, but here’s some initial reaction to Thomas’ retirement. She was politically polarizing in recent years with some strong criticism from the right and some from the left but her recent comments created a firestorm of criticism. So some of this reaction may reflect long held viewpoints on Thomas:
White House Press Corps veteran Helen Thomas has faced off with nine different presidents—starting with Eisenhower—and their supporting players over the course of her career, but ultimately her own words got her in trouble and marred her hard-won reputation.
Update: Let the records show RabbiLive.com was the one that brought the old hag down with the now infamous video of her hatred toward the Jews. Also, thanks to RabbiLive.com, the old antisemitic hag was dropped by her speakers agency – Nine Speakers, Inc.
Thanks to all who sent tips to me on this.
This is really not the way Helen Thomas deserves to go out, mired in a half-ass scandal. Nevertheless, it is how she is going out.
Thomas was wrong, her comments remarkably tone deaf for someone who has covered politics for decades. She has paid the price and goes the way of Don Imus.
People need to know when to retire. Of course, I could say the same thing about John McCain as well as others who are long past effectiveness and sanity, in some cases.
Meanwhile, Glenn Beck who invokes Mein Kampf when talking about Barack Obama’s presidency, and other right-wing screed provocateurs who use hate speech to make a living remain gainfully employed.
—No More Mister Nice Blog says she should have been given a “mulligan” and writes:
Sadly, the entire Village threw her under the bus, both left and right. Familiarity breeds contempt, and given the gaffe, the wingers and the Village kicked her out of the cool kids club after she showed them up for the last several decades as Thomas announced her retirement here this afternoon.
Even the White House piled on her. She apologized for her comments, which is more than El Rushbo or Glenn Beck ever did for their “controversial comments” but she’s out of a job now after five decades, unlike those two clowns.
And well, she’s gone now. Great work, the Village. You finally got rid of the old bat, right? You stopped the source of cooties after all these years. Good luck filling her chair, any of you in the WHPC. None of you are worthy, frankly.
FELLED BY A FLIP CAM: Helen Thomas retires. I told you those ubiquitous video cameras mattered . . . .
Reader Jessica O’Connor emails: “I heard this morning that the Rabbi who gave Helen Thomas enough rope to hang herself filmed their little exchange on a flip camera. I was pretty amazed at the excellent quality of both the audio & the video. It also it made me think of you, who is telling everyone to have these things all the time. It was certainly effective this time.” Indeed.
Helen Thomas’s comments that Jews should leave Israel and go back to Poland and Germany were especially weighty for me, as I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading and watching documentaries about WWII and the Holocaust. I guess she forgot that Jews fled Poland and Germany to escape Nazi death camps, and suggesting they “go back” invoked Holocaust images.
An unfortunate end to an illustrious career.
Thomas’ role as the dean of the press corps has long been held in high regard even as her presence at the White House waned as she approached the age of 90 and was sometimes caught speaking about politically charged topics. Her focus of the last few years has been the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and when questioning President Obama and administration officials, she has asked why those countries have been “occupied.” She was a vocal critic of President George W. Bush, and the presidential tradition of calling upon Thomas at White House press conferences also has become less frequent.
…The Hearst corporation issued a statement announcing Thomas’ decision.
Heart’s announcement in the short statement below capped a weekend where the Drudge Report first bannered her remarks saying the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” suggesting that “home” was “Poland. Germany. And America and everywhere else.”
The comments to a RabbiLIVE.com reporter with a video camera were among the topics at Washington parties over the weekend. The White House and the White House Correspondents Association were forced to address the issue today.
Go to the link to read that statement.
–Talk Left updated its post of yesterday which contained this:
One more thought on Ms. Thomas. I didn’t know until tonight she is the daughter of Lebanese immigrants. It immediately brought to mind one night in 2000 when I went to hear Ralph Nader speak, right before the November election. I was shocked by his anti-Israel remarks. Only later did I learn his parents were Lebanese immigrants. It’s probably too much to expect impartiality from anyone with a direct interest on either side of the Middle East issue. But if they can’t be fair, and they exhibit such strong bias that those listening take their remarks for hatred, they probably shouldn’t be national reporters or politicians. Both need to leave their private agendas behind in order to serve the public.
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.
“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.
Over the weekend, Thomas’ agency dropped her as a client and a high school that had asked Thomas to speak at its commencement ceremony revoked the invitation. Such political bigwigs as Dana Perino, Ari Fleischer, Rep. Rick Lazio, Lanny Davis and Joe Lockhart denounced Thomas’ remarks, as did many Jewish organizations.
Well it’s official. Rather than suffer through the disgrace of losing her seat in the front row, Helen Thomas announced her immediate retirement today. The wingnuts will be pleased. They’ve been gunning for her for years. I don’t suppose the White House will be sorry to see her go either. She’s been the one asking hard questions on things that matter through many presidencies. In fact, as it turns out, her last question will have been, “When are we getting out of Afghanistan?”
I’m not definding her thoughtless remark, although I’m sure it wasn’t intended to be as ugly as it sounded. But the overreaction from all sides is indefensible too. I mean she makes one blunt comment in the heat of the moment, which she immediately apologized for making, and it’s a firing offense? Yet Pat Buchanan can defend Hitler endlessly and everyone just shrugs, cause you know, that’s just Unka Pat? So yeah, I’m sorry to see her forced out in disgrace when there are so many worse offenders out there.
As I said before, someone needed to take away Crazy Auntie’s keys. It’s been a long time coming. The only time she was mildly interesting was when she was squawking at Gibbs and his closed administration.
….One thing beltway types are missing is the implication of Helen Thomas’ in DC. You see, many Americans view liberals as Israel and Jew-hating people. They see them as bigots who are never called out–when they themselves would be condemned (rightly) for saying something so abhorrent.
And we have a President who doesn’t seem to like Israel at all. So do the press types and administration keep her around because she’ll say what they can’t? People wonder that. Beltway types don’t think in those terms.
So yes. Helen Thomas needs to go somewhere else and spit her evil bile. She does not deserve an international platform for her filth. Let that happen at the UN …