Helen Thomas made my jaw drop with her recent comment that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Poland and Germany. Her bias in favor of Palestinians has never bothered me because I tend to agree that Israelis are running roughshod over the West Bank and Gaza. And while I’ve never cared for her rather pushy demeanor from her place of honor in a front row seat at White House press conferences, I’ve always had a lot of respect for her tenacity and sheer longevity. Her list of accomplishments as a woman in journalism has few equals.
But bias is one thing; hate is quite another. I’m shocked that an experienced journalist, looking directly into a reporter’s camera, would say such things. I can’t make allowances for her age — 89 — anymore. If her mental acuity or stability had started to decline, it would have become evident over a period of time. This incident was a deliberate dropping of all facade and pretense, a complete abandonment of self-restraint and good judgment. Such behavior is an indulgence of the elderly, not working professionals.
Thomas has apologized for her remarks, but after seeing the apology, it’s difficult to imagine she was sincere. Is it possible the offensive video was shot late in the day and she was “sundowning”? Could she have been substance impaired? I don’t know. And it doesn’t really matter now. Her booking agency, Nine Speakers, Inc., announced this afternoon they had dropped her because of her comments. Her employer, Hearst newspapers, may have no choice but to follow suit.
What a sad, sad way to end a long, distinguished career.
June 7, 10:30 a.m. — Hearst just announced that Helen Thomas is retiring, effective immediately.