Journalist Helen Thomas dies at 92

2013-07-20 20:02
Correspondent Helen Thomas reads a newspaper at her desk inside the White House briefing room in this March 2009 photo. (File, AFP)

Correspondent Helen Thomas reads a newspaper at her desk inside the White House briefing room in this March 2009 photo. (File, AFP)

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Washington - Helen Thomas, the longtime dean of the White House press corps who covered US presidents from John F Kennedy to Barack Obama, died on Saturday. She was 92.

Thomas "died [on] Saturday morning at her Washington apartment after a long illness. She would have been 93 next month", the Gridiron Club said.

Thomas was a former president and first female member of the club, a Washington journalistic institution.

From her front row seat in the White House press room, Thomas was a formidable, sharp-tongued inquisitor of every US president since Kennedy.

She was such a fixture, she had the unique privilege of a front row seat with her own name on it.

She began covering the White House for United Press International in the early 1960s, one of only a few women in a male dominated Washington press corps.

The daughter of Lebanese immigrants, she had a strong interest in the Middle East and was a fierce defender of Palestinian rights.

Her blunt, fearless style made her famous but tripped her up in 2010 when controversial remarks about Israel led to her resignation from a post that she dominated for decades.

She ran into trouble when an interviewer from the website rabbilive.com asked her what she thought about Israel.

"Get the hell out of Palestine," she responded. Jews, she said, should "go home, to Poland and Germany, America and everywhere else".

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