Legendary reporter quits amid controversy

After more than 50 years covering the White
House, journalist Helen Thomas has retired from Hearst Newspapers, amid controversy
over remarks she recently made about Israel.

Hearst News Service said that Thomas’ “decision came after her controversial
comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape during a
27 May interview and widely disseminated on the Internet.”

Since moving from reporter to columnist,
Thomas has made her views on Israel and other hot-button issues known. But her
recent call for Israel to “get the hell out of
Palestine” and have its citizens return to Germany, Poland, America, or
anywhere else drew harsh rebukes from political leaders on the left and right.
Despite an apology from Thomas, the controversy only grew. Thomas’ speakers’
agency dropped her as a client and a high school cancelled her upcoming
appearance at graduation.

 Press
Secretary Robert Gibbs called the comments “offensive and reprehensible.”

The board of the White
House Correspondents Association said Thomas’ comments were “indefensible”
and “especially unfortunate in light of her role as a trailblazer on the
White House beat.”

Thomas, 89,  has had one of the most distinguished
journalism careers over the past half-century in Washington.

She started out with UPI in 1943, and began
covering the White House toward the end of the Eisenhower administration. The
White House was where she really made her name. Since the late 1950s, Thomas
has grilled every sitting president, earning a
reputation as a reporter willing to ask tough questions regardless of who’s in
power.

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