In Memoriam:  Helen Thomas, a fearless journalist

In Memoriam:  Helen Thomas, a fearless journalist

by Sheila Musaji

Today, Helen Thomas, veteran journalist and retired White House Correspondent died at the age of 92.  She will be missed!

NPR reports that the White House Correspondents Association President Steven Thomma issued the following statement:

“Helen Thomas was a trailblazer in journalism and in the White House press corps, covering presidents from John F. Kennedy through Barack Obama.

Starting with the Kennedy administration, she was the first woman to cover the president and not just the First Lady.  At her urging in 1962, Kennedy said he would not attend the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents Association unless it was opened to women for the first time. It was.

And in 1975-76, she served as the first woman president of the association.

Women and men who’ve followed in the press corps all owe a debt of gratitude for the work Helen did and the doors she opened. All of our journalism is the better for it.”

President Barack Obama said:

Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Helen Thomas. Helen was a true pioneer, opening doors and breaking down barriers for generations of women in journalism. She covered every White House since President Kennedy’s, and during that time she never failed to keep presidents – myself included – on their toes. What made Helen the “Dean of the White House Press Corps” was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account. Our thoughts are with Helen’s family, her friends, and the colleagues who respected her so deeply.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) National President Warren David said today: “It is with great sadness that we received the news of Helen’s passing. Helen was a great friend of ADC and our community at large. She was not only a hero for the Arab American community, she was also a legendary figure for women, journalists, and all Americans. ADC is very proud that we had the privilege of highlighting her contributions and achievements throughout her career.  Helen Thomas will always be remembered as a patriot who stood up for what was right. We shall never forget Helen, her contributions to America, and for her legacy which will continue to inspire many for generations to come.”

The Chicago Tribune reported:

...  “Thomas believed the Washington media had grown soft and was reluctant to challenge government, views she shared in her 2007 book “Watchdogs of Democracy? The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public.”  ...  “Thomas was assigned to the White House in 1961 by UPI in part because of the great interest in first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, as well as the new young president.  She would go on to become the dean of the White House media corps and her front-row center chair in the briefing room eventually had a plaque with her name, the only seat so designated.”

People reports:

... Thomas was at the forefront of women’s achievements in journalism. She was one of the first female reporters to break out of the White House “women’s beat” – the soft stories about presidents’ kids, wives, their teas and their hairdos – and cover the hard news on an equal footing with men.  ...  Thomas fought, too, for a more open presidency, resisting all moves by a succession of administrations to restrict press access.  “People will never know how hard it is to get information,” Thomas told an interviewer, “especially if it’s locked up behind official doors where, if politicians had their way, they’d stamp TOP SECRET on the color of the walls.” ...

Dean Reynolds of CBS News who actually worked with Helen Thomas reports:

...  I worked with Helen Thomas for 11 years and I’m proud that I did. 

When I went to work with United Press International in 1971, Helen was already a White House celebrity. Her “Backstairs at the White House” column was one of the most widely-read offerings that UPI sent to its subscribers. Her shouted “Thank you” at the end of press conferences was a staple of life at the Executive Mansion.  Wire service reporters back then were mostly nameless scribes. Not Helen.  Presidents deferred to her, joked with her, respected her, and at times feared her.

...  I did not agree with her on the Middle East; I thought she was mistaken and short-sighted. But a lifetime of great work should not be overshadowed by a comment made at an advanced age. Cut her some slack.  And the truth is, whatever bias she may have had, it did not make its way into her stories. As I said, editors were helpful in steering her off the shoals. 

And on so many other stories involving so many presidents, Helen was insightful, engaging, and slam-dunk right.  It was an honor to work with her.  I will miss her. A lot.

Ralph Nader wrote There Will Never Be Another Helen Thomas:

There will never be another Helen Thomas. She shattered forever one anti-woman journalistic barrier after another in the Washington press corps and rose to the top of her profession’s organizations.

Helen Thomas asked the toughest questions of Presidents and White House press secretaries and over her sixty-two year career took on sexism, racism and ageism. She endured prejudice against her ethnicity — Arab-American — and her breaking the taboo regarding the rights of dispossessed Palestinians.

She also made many friends in journalism and spoke to audiences all over the country about the responsibility of journalists to hold politicians responsible with tough, probing, questions that are asked repeatedly until they are either answered or the politician is unmasked as an unaccountable coward. That is the example she set as a journalist and the recurrent theme in her three books.

Her free spirit, her courageous belief that injustice must be exposed by journalists, her congenial personality and her relentless focus (she asked former President George W. Bush and his press secretary Ari Fleischer dozens of times “Why are we in Iraq?”) will be long remembered.

Her tenacious, forthright approach to journalism stands as a stark contrast to the patsy journalism of too many of her former self-censoring White House press colleagues.

The remarkable combination of skills and perseverance will distinguish Helen Thomas as one of the giants of American journalistic history.

And, yet, even in death, some find the need to berate Helen Thomas over one comment made about Israel when she was 89 years old.  David Nesenoff, the Rabbi that stuck the microphone in Helen Thomas’ face and ambushed her with his question has just published an article on a Chabad site for which he should be ashamed.  He continues to air grievances over Thomas’ views on Israel and Palestine.  In his view Israel and Jews are synonymous and any criticism of Israel is synonymous with anti-Semitism.  In his words “the Children of Israel and the Land of Israel are one, and that is what Helen Thomas and those who want to delegitimize Israel are denying.” 

I disagree with him, and believe that Helen Thomas had every right to say that Israeli’s should get out of Palestine.  She wasn’t telling him that Israeli’s should get out of Israel, but that they should get out of Palestine.  I don’t believe that this is anti-Semitic.

Helen Thomas once said about journalism “If you want to be loved go into something else.”  In a 60 year trail blazing career as a journalist, and White House Correspondent under 10 Presidents, Thomas was loved by some and hated by some.  Her achievements are so numerous that she deserves to be remembered with respect.  She was a brave woman who spoke her mind and was not intimidated by the powerful.  (The UK Mail has some great photographs here.)  The most common adjectives seen in article headlines noting Helen Thomas’ passing — gutsy, trailblazer, pioneer, breaker of barriers for women, groundbreaking, legendary, iconic, and most used of all JOURNALIST.  This is the legacy that she earned the right to be remembered by.

Here is the background article about Helen Thomas published previously on TAM.  That article and the updates to it provide a detailed overview.

Helen Thomas Incident -  reprehensible, unconscionable, and offensive

As an American Muslim who has stood firmly for free-speech, I am confused.  I would like to understand how it is that any speech, no matter how hateful, aimed at Arabs and Muslims must be protected at all costs in order to defend our very identity as Americans, and any speech by an Arab or Muslim that goes against the grain must be repressed and their silence enforced.

Helen Thomas was attacked for a comment that she made.  A Rabbi from the website ambushed Thomas as she was leaving a White House event.  He stuck a microphone in her face and asked her “if she had any comments about Israel”.  Thomas responded, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.  Remember, these people are occupied. And it’s their land. Not Germany. Not Poland.”  The Rabbi then asked her “Where should they go?” and she said “Home”.  He then asked “Where’s home?” and she answered “They should go home, to Poland and Germany, America and everywhere else.”

There was indignation that she could say such a thing, accusations of anti-Semitism, and demands that she be fired.

Helen Thomas was the first woman President of the White House Correspondents Association.  She was the first woman to serve as the UPI’s White House Bureau Chief.  She was the first woman to serve as Bureau Chief for any wire service in the U.s.  She was the first woman allowed membership in the D.C. Journalists’  Gridiron Club, and ultimately became the Gridiron Club’s first woman President.  She has served more than 50 years as a White House correspondent.

And, even after all of this, no one asked her what she meant.  Just a small clip of video tape played over and over again, in most cases with the “America and everywhere else” not included. 

Even before this incident a level of Arabophobia was disceernible, for example Ann Coulter said about Helen Thomas in 2005 “Press passes can’t be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president.”  This bigoted statement which also infers that Arabs (even old ladies) might be a danger to the President and shouldn’t even be allowed to sit in the same room, went unremarked.  And, after this incident shameless individuals like Pamela Geller called Helen Thomas a “closet nazi”, and “human filth”.  Such vicious comments go well beyond disagreeing with a statement, and are part of an attempt to marginalize Muslim and Arab voices.

Helen Thomas decided to retire.  I hope that she will write something, or give an interview to anyone at all in the mainstream media who is interested in the truth, or in justice, or in the principle of free speech.  I would like to hear what she has to say.  And, I believe that the level of anger aimed in her direction has more to do with Arabaphobia than it does with anything else. 

Obviously there are many interpretations of what she meant.  My personal interpretation is that she was stating a fact - that Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem (part of Palestine) are occupied by Israel, and have been so since 1967.  Settlers who have illegally occupied homes and villages that are not a part of Israel have come from Israel and all over the world.  They need to leave, and go to Israel, or wherever they choose.  This is not some strange, or extreme idea, it is the opinion of most of the world.  She was not saying that Israeli’s should get out of Israel, only that they should get out of Palestine.

So, Helen Thomas said something that is only controversial in America where any criticism of Israel is forbidden, and for that it was “demanded” that she lose her position.  What Helen Thomas said was tame compared to what is said daily about Muslims and Arabs, and about which there is no concern at all.

Update:  Helen Thomas has issued a statement of apology.  In her apology, Ms. Thomas wrote: “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heartfelt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.”  Following this statement, the ADC issued a statement:

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) thanks Ms. Thomas for her legendary service, and acknowledges Ms. Thomas’ apology. ADC believes that Ms. Thomas should be judged on her “50-plus years of probing journalism, and not on a 30-second sound bite,” as stated by Mr. Zool Zulkowitz, who represents American Jews defending Ms. Thomas. Mr. Zulkowitz further said that, “We are clear what Helen Thomas meant to say, which is that Israel should cease its occupation of Palestine…” And, as Mr. Paul Jay wrote: “Not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism…Helen Thomas’ isn’t.”

As President Obama recognized in his historic address in Cairo on June 4, 2009, the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have endured the pain of dislocation for more than 60 years. “Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable ...”

It is our hope that other journalists would rise in Ms. Thomas’ place and espouse her courage in asking the hard questions. As Ms. Katrina Vanden Heuvel wrote yesterday in the Washington Post: “...isn’t there room for someone who made a mistake, apologized and wants to continue speaking truth to power and asking tough questions?” We certainly hope so. We also hope that we will continue to celebrate Ms. Thomas’ lifetime of courageous, frontline journalism; and that she will not be intimidated by the recent hateful accusations or deterred from her insightful questioning and reporting.

As noted in our Alarming Statements collection on TAM (which contains hundreds such statements): 

Mike Huckabee could not only promote the idea of changing the Constitution so that it agrees with the Bible, but could also suggest creating a Palestinian state elsewhere in the Middle East, possibly Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

Rep. Richard Armey could promote expelling the Palestinians somewhere else, and say “I’m content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank.”

Jim Quinn could say on a broadcast of The War Room that “[t]here’s only one way to settle the Palestine issue,” and that “is to level it and then salt the earth so that nothing grows for a thousand years, because that’s how the Muslims would have treated each other, and did.”

Cal Thomas could accuse American Muslims of “the undermining of this nation from within … through deception, putting on a peaceful face while subtly plotting ways to bring America down.”  He could say that “Israel should declare its intention to transfer large numbers of its Palestinian residents to Arab nations. . .Eviction is a better avenue to stability. Will it happen? Probably not. Should it? Yes.” 

National Review Online’s John Derbyshire could say that he wants to deny Muslims entry to the U.S. and “expel foreign Muslim residents.”  He could also recommend “Expulsion from the West Bank and Gaza, those territories then incorporated into Israel.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann could call the American Muslims who came to pray at the Muslim Day of Prayer on Capitol Hill “terrorist sympathizers” and “Islamo-Fascist bastards”.

Glenn Beck could ask Rep.-elect Keith Ellison to “prove to me that you are not working with our enemies” for no reason other than Ellison’s being a Muslim.  He could also suggest the possibility that “when people become hungry, when people see that their way of life is on the edge of being over, they will put razor wire up and just based on the way you look or just based on your religion, they will round you up.”

Joy Behar could say on The View, in a discussion of who airline passengers should sit next to on a plane,  “You want somebody who’s calm, you don’t want somebody who’s reading the Quran as you’re going down.”

Neal Boortz could say on his radio program that because “Muslims don’t eat during the day during Ramadan” and “fast during the day and eat at night,” they are “sort of like cockroaches”.  He could call Islam a ‘cult’, and threaten to ‘Eradicate’ Muslims, and say that “it is perfectly legitimate, perhaps even praiseworthy, to recognize Islam as a religion of vicious, violent, bloodthirsty cretins.” 

Sen. Conrad Burns could refer to Arabs as “ragheads”

Rep. Saxby Chambliss could say that to combat terrorism officials should “Arrest every Muslim that comes across the state line” into Georgia.”

Rep. Virgil Goode could say “The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office…”

Sean Hannity could claim that incoming Rep. Keith Ellison’s intention to use a copy of the Qur’an during the ceremonial photo op on the day of his swearing in “will embolden Islamic extremists and make new ones” and suggested that using the Quran for a swearing-in is comparable to using “Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which is the Nazi bible.” 

Mike Huckabee  could say “the international community should consider establishing a Palestinian state some place else.”  And, “The question is should the Palestinians have a place to call their own? Yes, I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That’s what I think has to be honestly assessed as virtually unrealistic.”

Sen. Inhofe could say that “our religion” guides our foreign policy, and that for example, “Israel has a right to the land because God said so.” 

Sen. Bob Kerry could “apologize” for bringing up Pres. Obama’s Muslim heritage because it was “insulting”.

Rep. Peter King could say that “85 percent of American Muslim community leaders are an enemy living amongst us” and that “no (American) Muslims cooperate in the war on terror”.

Charles Krauthammer could say that “the Qur’an inspires terrorism”.

Michelle Malkin could say “I stopped using the terms “Islamic fascist” and “Islamofascism” a while ago…because they obscure rather than clarify. The views held by the Muslim jihadis who want to destroy us are not marginal views held only by a minority of “Islamic fascists.”

Judge Roy Moore could compare the Qur’an to Mein Kampf.

KOA radio host “Gunny” Bob Newman could say that “every Muslim immigrant to America who holds a green card, a visa, or who is a naturalized citizen [should] be required by law to wear a GPS tracking bracelet at all times,” and that the government should “bug their places of work and their residences” and monitor “[a]ll mosques and community centers.”
Rep. Frank Lassee could say “Islam IS a religion intent on conquering the world. This global domination is preached and encouraged by Imams in mosques. And it is a central theme in the Koran, the Islamic Bible, and is an important part of their history.” 

Bill O’Reilly could promote “profiling of Muslims” at airports, arguing that detaining all “Muslims between the ages of 16 and 45” for questioning “isn’t racial profiling,” but “criminal profiling.” 

Marty Peretz, Ed. of The New Republic, could say “Frankly, I couldn’t quite imagine any venture requiring trust with Arabs turning out especially well.”

Sid Rosenberg an Imus anchor could say referring to Palestinians ”They’re all brainwashed, though. That’s what it is. And they’re stupid to begin with, but they’re brainwashed now. Stinking animals. They ought to drop the bomb right there, kill ‘em all right now.”

Michael Savage could say “[W]hen I see a woman walking around with a burqa, I see a Nazi,” adding, “That’s what I see—how do you like that?—a hateful Nazi who would like to cut your throat and kill your children.”  He could say “What kind of religion is this? What kind of world are you living in when you let them in here with that throwback document in their hand, which is a book of hate. Don’t tell me I need reeducation. They need deportation. I don’t need reeducation. Deportation, not reeducation.”  He could say ”Arabs aren’t really human and most Americans would just like to drop a nuclear bomb on them - any of them”, and “these people” in the Middle East “need to be forcibly converted to Christianity” in order to “turn them into human beings.”

Rep. Tancredo could say [that] you cannot integrate some people into your society.”

If there is no problem at all with these journalists, media pundits, and representatives of our government saying such things about Muslims and Arabs, then why is it not possible for Helen Thomas to express her opinion, especially since that opinion may be interpreted in more than one way, and no one bothered to ask her what she meant?  Most of the comments quoted above about Islam, Arabs, and Muslims can only be taken one way, and it is very clear exactly what was meant, and it isn’t pretty.

These are only some of the comments made by government representatives and media personalities.  Comments by Christian clergy people and Jewish rabbis have been even more extreme. 

Is anyone at all outside of the Arab and Muslim communities outraged?  Do they find any of these statements reprehensible?  Should any of these folks apologize, or be forced to resign?  Of course not, because Arabs and Muslims simply don’t deserve the same respect as other human beings.

Ari Fleischer, Robert Gibbs, Rahm Emanuel and all the rest of those who made such strong statements condemning Helen Thomas and demanding that she be fired really need to examine their consciences, especially if they are not willing to make just such strong demands of all those attacking American Muslims, American Arabs, and Islam.

And, Rabbi David Nesenoff, who was responsible for the video of Helen Thomas’ remarks, has himself made an offensive video ridiculing Mexicans.  You can see the video here.  He also believes that there is a Palestinian state for the Arabs to go to and it is Jordan.

How is it that Helen Thomas’ statements are “reprehensible”, “unconscionable”, and offensive”, she “must apologize” and not only must lose her job, but should never work again anywhere when all of those who have so viciously attacked Arabs, Muslims, and Islam are just exercising free speech. 

Something is very rotten, hypocritical, and bigoted.  Something is reprehensible, unconscionable, and offensive, and it isn’t Helen Thomas.

This is not the first time that Helen Thomas was pilloried for something she said.  In January of 2010, at a White House Press Conference, Thomas asked regarding the Abdulmutallab case “And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why”, she did not receive an answer (or at least not any answer that made any sense).  See Pat Buchanan and Ray McGovern Answer Helen Thomas’ “Why” Question for a detailed account of that incident, and many links to other articles on this question of WHY?.

UPDATE June 17, 2010

Having removed Helen Thomas from the journalism scene, the Israel Lobby is now working with its agents on the Wall Street Journal editorial page to eliminate the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society of Professional Journalists.  Read Paul Craig Roberts full article here.  Roy Greenslade reports that her speaking and book publishing agency will no longer represent her, and a high school where she was scheduled to be the graduation speaker has cancelled her speech.  As he noted “It is one of those rare occasions in which one can see clearly how people in America who are willing to express anti-establishment opinions are demonised, marginalised and finally excluded from public debate.”

Also, this month, after the Israeli attack on the Gaza Flotilla:  At a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs held this line, and was confronted by veteran reporter Helen Thomas for refusing to assign responsibility in the raid, which left nine people dead.  Thomas sternly asked Gibbs: “The initial reaction to the flotilla massacre, deliberate massacre, an international crime, was pitiful. What do you mean you regret something that should be so strongly condemned, and if any other nation in the world had done it, we would have been up in arms? What is this ironclad relationship where a country that deliberately kills people and boycotts every aid and abet… the boycott?”

UPDATE July 9, 2010

Octavia Nasr of CNN was fired because of a comment she made about the death of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.  She said in a tweet “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah . . . . One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”  After all the uproar she also wrote a clear statement explaining her tweet in full.

Octavia Nasr joins Helen Thomas and many others whose voices may not even be heard.  The most detailed response to this incident is that of Glenn Greenwald here in which he lists numerous such cases.  Juan Cole also notes that US Ally Maliki & Octavia Nasr Both Praised FadlallahStephen M. Walt, Matt Duss, Jack Shafer, Andrew Sullivan, Mathew Ingram, Scott McConnell, Michael Arlington, and many others also point out the hypocrisy in all of this. 

UPDATE December 5, 2010

Wayne State University has for many years offered an annual “Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity in the Media” Award.  This year they are “retiring” that award because of Helen Thomas’ remarks at a Diversity Conference in Dearborn this week as well as her previous comments.  According to an article in Common Dreams “Thomas said at a diversity conference that “Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by Zionists. No question, in my opinion.”

WRMEA reports that:

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) honored the legendary Helen Thomas at a Nov. 18 gala at the Washington, DC Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. The event celebrated Ms. Thomas’ long and outstanding career in journalism as well as her breaking numerous barriers in her field.

Thomas worked for the United Press International (UPI) for 57 years, first as a correspondent and later as White House bureau chief. From 2000 to 2010 she was an opinion columnist for Hearst Newspapers, writing on national affairs and the White House. Thomas retired on June 7, 2010, following negative reactions to a one-minute excerpt from an ambush interview posted by Rabbi David Nesenoff.

ADC president Sara Najjar-Wilson presided as emcee for the evening, which included testimonials by ADC national board chair Dr. Safa Rifka; Ambassador Dr. Clovis Maksoud; four-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader; former U.S. Senator and ADC founder James Abourezk; former Congressman Paul Findley; and former Congresswoman and former ADC president Mary Rose Oakar. All lauded Thomas’ relentless dedication to unraveling the truth for the American people and for asking the tough questions that no other member of the White House Press Corps dared ask. The speakers emphasized that Thomas is a source of pride not only to Arab-Americans, but to all Americans.

The testimonials included a special video tribute by ABC reporter and news anchor Sam Donaldson; an original poem written especially for Thomas, authored and read by Dr. Sam Hamod; the 2010 Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award, presented by Anisa Mehdi, on behalf of the Mehdi Family and the National Arab American Journalists Association; and a presentation of an original calligraphy painting, titled “Justice,” by Nawaf Soliman.

World-renowned composer and pianist Malek Jandali, closed the evening presentations with a performance of two original piano compositions. Gala attendees then mobbed Helen Thomas to congratulate her, shake her hand and pose for photos to remind them of an evening where one brave Arab-American woman, a patriot, received well-deserved praise from her community.

UPDATE 3/28/2012

It seems that they are not through punishing Helen Thomas yet.  She has been denied a table at this year’s White House Correspondents Dinner.

Thomas, a former WHCA president who covered 10 administrations before retiring from Hearst newspapers in 2010 over controversial comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was initially told by WHCA that she could purchase two tickets to the annual glitzy dinner. (The two-ticket offer still stands and Thomas is welcome to attend the dinner with a guest).

But in late February, Thomas sent a letter to WHCA board members asking for “the full board to consider [her] request” for a table. In the letter, Thomas said that she wanted to celebrate with her family and friends the 50th anniversary of women journalists getting the opportunity to attend the dinner—a breakthrough she helped achieve during the Kennedy years.

The board acknowledged having received Thomas’ letter in a Monday email to White House reporters, which included the minutes to its March 16 meeting, but ultimately decided to deny her request.

Reuters’ Caren Bohan, the current WHCA president, explained in an email to The Huffington Post why Thomas would not be granted her own table at the event.

“The board decided in 2010 to set a policy that, as a courtesy to past presidents only, they would be eligible to purchase two tickets even if they are no longer covering the White House,” Bohan wrote. “Usually, people need to be members of the WHCA to purchase tickets on behalf of their news organizations.”

I doubt if there are any members who are brave enough to reserve a table for Thomas and her family, but it would be encouraging to see this happen.  Please write WHCA online​contact.htm phone, them at 202-266-7453, and/or fax them at 202-266-7454.

UPDATE April 2012

AP has reported that:

The top Palestinian envoy to the U.S. recently hosted longtime American journalist Helen Thomas at his Washington residence and honored her for taking a tough stand against Israeli occupation, a senior Palestinian official said Tuesday.  ...  For many Palestinians, Thomas’ May 2010 comments were seen as a call for Israel to end its decades-old military occupation of lands Palestinians seek for a state.

...  Palestinians appreciated her position, and Maen Erekat, the Palestinian envoy to Washington, recently hosted Thomas at a dinner at his residence, the official said.

“She meant to stand against (Israel’s) occupation and he wanted to honor her,” said the Palestinian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the issue’s sensitivity.

Israeli daily Haaretz said the dinner took place Sunday. The official said Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi presented Thomas with an award, though he did not specify what kind of award it was. ...


The Ambush of Helen Thomas. Gary Leupp
The assault against the Arab/Islamic media, Ray Hanania 
Cashiering Helen Thomas, Ralph Nader
CNN Caves In, Stephen M. Walt
CNN Caves To Right Wing Neocons By Firing Its Mideast Reporter Octavia Nasr, Matt Duss
CNN’s Octavia Nasr: Another Victim of America’s Thought Police , Abbas Barzegar
Defending the First Amendment and Freedom of Expression, Stephen Lendman caves in to pressure and threats on Israeli-Palestinian Dispute, Ray Hanania 
Farewell Helen Thomas, Paul Woodward
Free Speech and Civic Responsibility, Tariq Ramadan
Free Speech and Political Spin: The Cases of Helen Thomas and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Dr. Robert D. Crane
Hearing Helen, Darrell Dawsey
In Defense of Helen Thomas, Davis Fleetwood
In Defense of Helen Thomas - On Apologizing to Apologists, Paul Jay
Intellectual Book Burning in a Totalitarian Democracy, John W. Whitehead
Look who’s asphyxiating free speech now
More outrage over Helen Thomas comment than Murder of U.S. citizen, Ahmed Rehab
Nasr firing is yet another shameful capitulation to the lobby, Scott McConnell 
Octavia Nasr fired by CNN over tweet praising late ayatollah, Peter Walker
Octavia Nasr’s firing and what The Liberal Media allows, Glenn Greenwald 
Octavia Nasr loses right to free speech
The special pair of spectacles, Shahzad Aziz 
Helen Thomas, Old Journalism Ambushed by the New One, Hani Almahadoun
Helen Thomas a victim of American media bias, Ali Younes
Helen Thomas and “Objective Journalism”, Ken Silverstein
Helen Thomas: In Appreciation, Paul Craig Roberts
Helen Thomas Is Out of Work - Good Thing We’ve Got A “Free” Press Here, Richard Greener
Helen Thomas Resigned, will Chuck Schumer?
Helen Thomas went over the top, but why is she gagged in the land of the free? 
The Outrage at Helen Thomas, Allison Weir
Palestine to Move to Dallas-Fort Worth: Dick Armey’s Bold Plan, Alexander Cockburn
Speak Your Mind. Lose Your Job - Why Octavia Nasr and Dave Weigel shouldn’t have lost their jobs, Jack Shafer 
They’re All Grovelling and You Can Guess the Reason, Robert Fisk 
Twitter Firing Was A Mistake For CNN,  Stephen M. Walt
Twitter Forces Media to Confront the Myth of Objectivity, Mathew Ingram
U.S. Security Council veto on Israeli settlement activity - a contradictory message, Ray Hanania
We Need More Opinion In News, Not Less, Michael Arrington