Back in Journalism school in the early 80's I had many 4th Estate idols, chief among them Edward R. Murrow, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and the venerable Helen Thomas, who was still with UPI at the time. I greatly admired and respected the feisty and fearless old gal who put many a president on the hotseat. The lady had balls.
But Thomas's much revered news career came to an abrupt end this week. The iconic 89-year-old journalist, who's covered 10 U.S. administrations and whose career dates back to 1943, on May 27th was asked by a rabbi outside the White House during a Jewish heritage month celebration if she had any comments to make about Israel. She said "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine... Remember, these people are occupied, and it's their land; its not German, its not Poland's." Asked where they should go, she said "they should go home" to "Poland, Germany... America and everywhere else." Her remarks were shocking, and would've been the equivalent of hearing Larry King, Tom Brokaw or Barbara Walters telling blacks to go back to Africa.
Since then, Thomas has 'retired' from Hearst and was dropped from her speaking agency. So what happened? Why did Thomas so recklessly put a humiliating final chapter to such an illustrious career? Are we to assume that this Kentucky-born Christian of Lebanese descent is a life-long anti-Semite, especially given her often pro-Arab comments in the past? Are her controversial remarks the result of old age and the onset of dementia? Regardless, her remarks are reprehensible, and a sad reminder of how much racism and anti-Semitism still exists in America today, even among the intelligentsia and the media.
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