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White House journalist quits over Israel rema -

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LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Helen Thomas, the oldest serving journalist in the Washington press corps
has resigned, following comments she made that Jews should, "get the hell out Palestine".

The 89-year-old columnist has covered the administrations of 10 different presidents, starting with
John F. Kennedy.

She made the comments to a rabbi on Jewish Heritage Day.

Helen Thomas resigned after the comments went viral, as Steve Cannane reports.

STEVE CANNANE, REPORTER: A veteran of the old media has been caught out by the new media.

RABBILIVE.COM REPORTER: Any comments on Israel? We're asking everybody today. Any comments on

HELEN THOMAS, JOURNALIST: Tell 'em to get the hell out of Palestine.

RABBILIVE.COM REPORTER: Oooh. Any better comments than that?

HELEN THOMAS: Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land.

STEVE CANNANE: The comments were made to Rabbi David Nesenoff and posted on his website.

RABBILIVE.COM REPORTER: So where should they go? What should they do?

HELEN THOMAS: They go home.


HELEN THOMAS: Poland. Germany.

RABBILIVE.COM REPORTER: So the Jews go back to Poland and Germany?

HELEN THOMAS: And America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there
for centuries?

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Those remarks were offensive and reprehensible. I think she
should, and has, apologised.

STEVE CANNANE: But an apology was not enough. Shortly after this rebuke from the White House, Helen
Thomas resigned her position as a columnist for Hearst newspapers, two months short of her 90th

It was a humiliating end to a career that had many highlights.

The daughter of illiterate Lebanese immigrants, Helen Thomas became the first woman officer of the
National Press Club and the first female president of the White House Correspondents' Association.

She was known as the dean of the press corps and was the only reporter to have her own assigned
seat in the White House briefing room.

Lyndon Johnson described her as a mix of acupuncture and journalism and her questions could get
under the skin of the president of the day.

HELEN THOMAS: My question is why did you really want to go to war?

GEORGE W. BUSH, US PRESIDENT: To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect.
No, hold on for a second, please. Excuse me, excuse me.

STEVE CANNANE: But Helen Thomas was also critical of her fellow reporters after 9/11.

HELEN THOMAS (Elders with Andrew Denton, 2008): Oh, I think it's a degradation. I think it's a
default on the part of the reporters to not call the hands of these people and say, "Look, you said
this yesterday and you're saying this now. How can you how approach the American people with this?"

STEVE CANNANE: Helen Thomas was regularly criticised by politicians and other reporters for being a
journalist with opinions.

HELEN THOMAS (Elders with Andrew Denton, 2008): I think most of my colleagues do not agree with me
at all. They think I'm intrusive and they think that I'm - I shouldn't have my opinions and so
forth. Well, that's their problem.

STEVE CANNANE: But it was her opinions that ended her career after 67 years in journalism.

Her old seat at the front of the press corps is now vacant.

Steve Cannane, Lateline.