Helen Thomas, the 90-year-old pioneering female journalist who lost her job last June over comments about Israel labeled as anti-Semitic, has resurfaced as a columnist with the Falls Church News-Press, a suburban weekly paper across the Potomac River from Washington.
The News-Press announced
the hire Thursday, saying Thomas would write a weekly political affairs column online and in the print edition. Owner-editor Nicholas F. Benton said Thomas' earlier remarks were "intemperate and inappropriate." But he said, "She is progressive, and following my more than eight hours of direct, one-on-one talks with her since the events of last June, I remain firmly convinced that she is neither bigoted, nor racist, nor anti-Semitic." Her appointment was also noted by media-watcher Jim Romensko of the Poynter Institute
At her peak as a White House reporter for United Press International in the 1960s and 1970s, the outspoken Thomas was one of the most widely read political writers in the country.
But last summer, in an impromptu interview outside the White House, she said that "Jews should get the hell out of Palestine" and go home to Poland, Germany or the U.S. That cost her a columnist job with Hearst Newspapers as she took what appeared to be a forced retirement.
But as recently as last month in Michigan, Thomas, who is an Arab-American, seemed to stand by the statements. In December, the Detroit Free Press reported that she told an audience in Dearborn that "Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists. No question, in my opinion . . . They put their money where their mouth is."