At the age of 89, journalist and occasional anti-Semite Helen Thomas has retired. This means that, for the first time in many decades, Ms. Thomas will not be participating in the White House press briefing. There are indeed consequences to being in favor of ethnic cleansing.
Helen Thomas, who, in recent years has asked heavily loaded questions about the Middle East that seemed to suggest that Israeli Jews were responsible for that region’s many woes, crossed a line that not even a venerable, liberal media star can cross when she, after being asked a question herself, suggested that the Jews of Israel should “go back” to Germany and Poland.
The firestorm that followed was immediate and the condemnation was nearly total. Thomas was not only denounced by conservatives and friends of Israel, but also such luminaries as Lanny Davis, a Clinton advisor who had considered herself a friend of Helen Thomas until now. The White House itself, speaking through its mouth piece Robert Gibbs, denounced Thomas.
Helen Thomas’s long time agent dropped her as a client. Thomas attempted to apologize for her remarks.
Oddly, the Hearst Newspapers, up until now Helen Thomas’ employer, had been silent about the affair. Clearly, the Hearst Newspapers clearly expected Thomas to do the right thing, which she did.
The retirement of Helen Thomas constitutes a sad finale of what had once been a brilliant journalistic career. She started working for UPI in the 1940s, reporting on women’s issues. The first President she covered was one John F. Kennedy.
The ending of Thomas’ career should constitute a warning for those who might attempt to remain on the stage for too long. While there are people who can be productive members of society well past the age of which many people have died, Helen Thomas was not one of them. She stayed ensconced in her seat in the front row of the White House briefing room, given undeserved deference due to her longevity, long past the time she should have graciously retired.
Had Thomas retired from journalism – say – a decade or two ago, she would have done so to universal acclaim for a brilliant journalistic career. No doubt she could have written books and occasionally be trotted out to provide commentary and historical perspective.
But, in the wake of Thomas’ increasingly bizarre behavior, after apparently developing some kind of animus against Jews, her fellow journalists did her no favors by looking the other way. An intervention, a talking-to that would suggest that it was time to go gracefully, would have saved Thomas considerable embarrassment.
No doubt there were some who secretly hoped that God or nature would take a hand and carry Helen Thomas off without any human intervention. But, if Thomas succeeded in anything, she successfully persisted.
But now the dean of the White House Press Corps is gone and, in the fullness of time, will be no more. It is hoped that Helen Thomas will have whatever time is left her to reflect on the consequences of nurturing hate and letting it take expression far too many times.