92 year-old journalist Helen Thomas dies

Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas, a nearly five decade journalist who covered the White House, has died at the age of 92 it has been reported.

Her death occurred at her Washington apartment after she had been battling a long illness Gridiron Club, Washington’s historic press organisation confirmed.

Having been through ten presidencies and is well known, not just by them, but by all for asking difficult questions. She was a regular at the news conferences at the White House and considered a pioneer for women in journalism.

Veteran NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell tweeted that Helen Thomas “made it possible for all of us who followed”.

Thomas comes from Lebenese inmigrants in Kentucky in 1920. She found her calling whilst working for the student newspaper in her school.

When she finished there, she became a copy girl for a small Washingon newspaper before moving to the United Press (UPI) wire service with whom she covered the John F Kennedy presidential campaign.

When Kennedy’s elections were over, there was a huge demand for stories about about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and this helped secure Ms Thomas’ place within the White House’s press corps.

The following decade, she reported on harder news and became UPI’s White House bureau chief in the 1970s. This made her the first woman to hold the post.

She would sit in the middle of the front row of the briefing room and grill presidents and government spokespeople wih persistent questions.

One press secretary of te White House who was a supposed fan of hers, described her as “torture” the Associated Press reports.

The one president she was particularly tough on was George W Bush and constantly challenged him over the war in Iraq. She allegedly described him to another reporter in 2003 as the “worst president ever”.

“I have never covered the president in any way other than that he is ultimately responsible,” she once said.

She became the first female president of the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA), the first female member of the Gridiron Club and the only female print journalist to travel with President Richard Nixon on his first trip to China.

As she was the senior news service correspondent at the White House, she was more than likely the one who would end the news conference with the phrase “Thank you, Mr President”.

Her career ended hanging in 2010 after she said in an interview that Israeli Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Germany, Poland and America.

She later stated she deeply regretted the comments, saying “they do not reflect my heartfelt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognise the need for mutual respect and tolerance”.

Her husband, Douglas Cornell, who was the Associated Press’s chief White House correspondent, died in 1982.

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