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Helen Thomas unlikely to hold her plum press seat

The White House Correspondents' Association is debating what to do about Helen Thomas in the wake of the explosion of outrage over her claim that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go back to Europe.

The WHCA has not commented publicly on her remarks, but in an e-mail circulated late last night, CNN's Ed Henry, who's also the secretary of the WHCA, described them as "shocking and indefensible."

That makes it unlikely that Thomas will be allowed to continue to hold her plum seat in the White House press room, which, unsurprisingly, was empty today:


In the e-mail, Henry sharply criticized Thomas' remarks as "offensive," noting that there's "a lot of frustration" among members of the WHCA, and "rightly so." But he also noted that many journalists he's spoken with "do not want this one awful episode to define her entire career." And Henry reminded colleagues that the White House would have a say as to whether she keeps her seat. "That power comes at the discretion of the White House itself," he wrote.

But Robert Gibbs just weighed in at the press briefing, describing her comments as "reprehensible." And a conservative colleague just gave me another very good reason why it's unlikely that she'll be allowed to keep it: If she stays, right-wingers will use it to savage the press as anti-Israel.

"They can't let her sit up front because people like me will just use it to bludgeon them," the colleague told me.

Like I said above, the WHCA is currently debating what to do, but it's hard to believe she won't be a goner within hours.

By Greg Sargent  |  June 7, 2010; 11:49 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security , Political media  
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Next: Helen Thomas is 'retiring'


Time for a little levity about the situation:

Helen Thomas should get out of the USA, and go back to Lebanon.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 7, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Long live first amendment. Poor woman completely and wantonly misinterpreted to cover up the atrocious murders on high seas by Israel. Kudos to UK's Cameron for his bold denunciation. US is the 51st state of Israel now.

Posted by: amkeew | June 7, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

She'll get fired or demoted for speaking what is on many people's minds.

Posted by: kenk3 | June 7, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Ugghhh....what an ugly situation.

Regardless of what she meant to say, it was abhorrent. It's just sad that such an icon - a woman who really blazed a trail for other women - will probably now end her career on such a low note.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | June 7, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey Greg, there's something I noticed about this episode that I was wondering if you had noticed too. I guess I have to restate my belief that what she said was stupid and that I don't condone them since I'm sure this post will attract a lot of trolls. Having said that as I looked over the intertubes last night and this morning just about every site that bashed her for these comments made sure to point out that she her parents were Lebanese immigrants. Even Joke Line over at Swampland made this distinction. And its pretty obvious what the insinuation is. I was wondering if you noticed the same thing. And bigger than that, if her family history or upbringing made her feel a certain way towards Israel would this be the first time in her long and storied career that she made these kinds of statements? I mean seriously, all of a sudden now at her age this is an issue?

To me its evidence of piling on for piling ons sake. Just saying.

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla | June 7, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

The Woman is ninty years old. Cut her some slack. She should have retired years ago.

She is well past the age, where most people do not allow their grandparents to take control of the TV remote.

Very old people tend to utter very irrational things. Ronald Reagan did.

She should retire, now.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 7, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Will the newspaper retain its spot up front when she's gone?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | June 7, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Liam's Law:

When they start honoring you, and exalting you for your long service, you have served too long.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 7, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

So it's OK for Israel news journalist to put on a black face representing President Obama and label him a Muslim and mock him.

It's OK for some moron in SC to refer to President Obama as a "rag head".

It's OK to demean Muslims, or Arab (famous McCain Rally supporter who didn't like Obama cause he's a... gasp... Arab)

But it's not OK to say the Jews should get out of Palestine and perhaps seek residence elsewhere.

And...what happened to free speech in this county.

It's free unless you offend a Republican or a Jew.

Posted by: Jalenth | June 7, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

She said Israel should get the hell out of Palestine. She didn't say Jews. Go back and listen to it again.

Oh, and colleague is spelled with a u.

Posted by: cranberry | June 7, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

None of those things are acceptable, including what Ms. Thomas said.

It was a stupid thing to say. Her parents immigrated to the USA from Lebanon. Should she be required to get out of America, and go back to Lebanon?

Posted by: Liam-still | June 7, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Individuals on Fox news often compare actions of this administration to those of Hitler, Stalin and Mao yet the GOP still use them as a platform to campaign and spread propaganda.

Shouldn't Garret be removed from the room since his network frequently compares this administration to dictators who are responsible for tens of millions of deaths of all religions and races?

I'm not defending Thomas, but if we're going to be punishing people or organizations from acting reprehensibly, then lets start with Fox.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | June 7, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

BREAKING NEWS! Helen Thomas just announced that she's retiring effective immediately!

Posted by: roxsteady | June 7, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

She said Israel should get the hell out of Palestine. She didn't say Jews. Go back and listen to it again.

Oh, and colleague is spelled with a u.

Posted by: cranberry | June 7, 2010 12:17 PM


You conveniently omitted the part where she said they should go back to Poland or Germany.

That would be quite a trick for the State Of Israel to pull off.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 7, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Leave the senile old bat alone. She is no worse than the rest of the Washington press corp. But of course they don't have any excusses for their worthlessness.

Posted by: jdonner2 | June 7, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

whca is a bunch of self-important, shallow, prissy, preening white boyz club. Who gives a fvck what they think or say ?

Posted by: amkeew | June 7, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

No one is trying to take away Thomas's First Amendment rights. She can say whatever the "hell" she wants, and I don't have a problem with that.

Her problem is, however, that she is an "objective" journalist employed by a privately-owned company with perhaps the most coveted reporting assignment as a member of the White House press association. With that platform comes a certain responsibility, and she has now destroyed her reputation because of this careless comment.

First Amendment aside, people in certain positions simply cannot say whatever they want and expect to maintain their employment or professional position.

Posted by: RambleOn | June 7, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

All, Hearst announces that Thomas has "retired":

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 7, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Rambleon - you must pass on that great 'advice' to those at the faux news.

Posted by: amkeew | June 7, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

A word of advice to David Broder.

Retire now. You have been wading into the shallow end of the same pool, during recent times.

Get out before you make the same mistake as Helen.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 7, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

So the jews screamed loud enough to get their way.

But the backlash... already at a fever pitch against the Israelis et. al. got another boost with this.

She should be given a Nobel Peace Prize for telling the truth.
Most people think so, but you won't read it much in the zionist owned newspaper.

Another nail, nowever, has been placed. And could we have the name of the nasty rabbi who squeeled.

Posted by: whistling | June 7, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Whistler crawled back out of his sewer hole.

This is the hate monger who posted recently that Germany was justified in their efforts to exterminate the Jewish people.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 7, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

One problem is that Germany and Poland

would fight like hell not to let them go back.

The worry always, is that sometime the Israelis will try to come to the US, further ruining things....more 9/11, screadming for wars,

and more Lloyd Blankfeins on Wall Street.
Wouldn't be prudent. They already come into the US illegally by droves.

And the Immigeration rules, that call for so many from this and that region or nations, somehow chooses the Jews from those region. And try up state New York...

Posted by: whistling | June 7, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Liam still

you've shown repeatedly that you're wreckless and a liar. Thee is apparently no guard to your foul mouth.

But let me counsel you to watch it where libel is concerned.

Posted by: whistling | June 7, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

amkeew, if the Fox news WH correspondent made similar statements, I'd say exactly the same thing.

Your position is lost on me?

Posted by: RambleOn | June 7, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Liam still

you've shown repeatedly that you're wreckless and a liar. Thee is apparently no guard to your foul mouth.

But let me counsel you to watch it where libel is concerned.

Posted by: whistling | June 7, 2010 12:58 PM


You are the hatemonger who posted that Germany during the 1930s, had the right idea in how to handle The Jews, so bring it on sewer rat. Your comment is in the Post archives, so I will wipe the floor with you in any court in the land, and take you to the cleaners.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 7, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

So piracy is "A-OK" as is killing of American citizens - according to the press poutage. Instead, we pounce on an old woman - who is technically accurate that Israel IS occupying Palastianian land.

Should we starve and torture the current landowners? Should we allow the "new" owners to bulldoze and kill the current owners? Israel has a right to exist - but not a right to steal. Right?

An eye for an eye? God forgive us all for not knowing you better. We appear blind to your wisdom.

Posted by: rjmmcelroy | June 7, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

amkeew; I think you mean to say that Israel is the 51st state. I would add that the U.S. has too long been Occupied Territories of Israel.

I say a resounding "Brava!" to Helen Thomas for bluntly stating her anti-zionist sentiment. Pretending that no one lived in Palestine before the British "gave" it to the European Jews is as reprehensible as what the zionists feel over Helen's recent remark.

Prior to the arrival of European zionists, Jews and Arabs; Hebrews, Muslims and Christians, lived in peace side-by-side in the land known as Palestine. The bulk of the modern-day trouble in the Holy Land began in May 1948. Arabs were disarmed by the withdrawing British while World Jewish movements were arming and financing the incoming European zionists. If the zionists came in peace, why did they need to have guns? Perhaps they knew that someone wasn't going to be happy having their house, olive grove and land taken away from them.

Obviously, Thomas' comment applies to those right-wing Israelis who refuse to seek a nice, peaceful way to further usurp Palestinian land. If U.S. zionists are so hell-bent on protecting and perpetrating the narrow-minded notion that God's Chosen People are only Jewish, then they should take a slice of Texas and give it to the Israelis to come here and live "in peace."

This fear of offending Jewish sensitivity and the risk of being labeled anti-semitic for being critical of zionism is irrational. As a former zionist whose eyes have been opened to the plight of the Palestinians since Ottoman rule, British occupation and Zionist domination, I say:

Forget the tit-for-tat discussion. Helen Thomas deserves a promotion to the Middle East Section at the State Department.
Are you listening Hilary and Barack?

Posted by: gooliamo | June 7, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Bravo Gooliamo, tell it how it is and Bravo for Helen Thomas.

Lets see if the world would sit back at watch China take over Australia, or North Korea take over South Korea... It would never happen. But the world allowed Euopean Jews take Palestine from BOTH Chritian and Muslim people. I know Hundreds of Christian Palestinian people who had their homes taken away. It is sad how people think it is only the Muslims that were affected.
We (christian Australia, America and Europe) let Jews kill and rob Christians of homes in OUR HOLY land... We Christians Just sided with those who killed Jesus.

Posted by: talebelect | June 7, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

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