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Brave, progressive former White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who was what many consider unfairly forced out of her job, is now writing again for a Washington, DC area newspaper, the Falls Church News Press.

Now age 90, Thomas began her journalistic career in 1942 and has covered every U.S. president one a day-to-day basis as a White House correspondent since 1960. She declared her retirement abruptly on June 8, 2010 following a firestorm of criticism that arose from spontaneous taped comments she made the day before that some claimed to be anti-Semitic.

But in a statement also published in today's edition, News-Press owner-editor Nicholas F. Benton writes that, as one who has known Ms. Thomas since 1991, "She is progressive, and following my more than eight hours of direct, one-on-one talks with her since the events of last June, I remain firmly convinced that she is neither bigoted, nor racist, nor anti-Semitic."

He added, "I am proud that a journalist of the stature and professionalism of Helen Thomas is relaunching her career, in her ninetieth year no less, in my newspaper. She more than deserves, and I am honored to help provide her the proverbial 'second chance.

Her first column ran today and deals with social security.  Here is an except:

This year, 2011, marks the beginning of baby boomers receiving Social Security checks and they should be alerted of past perennial Republican attempts to partially privatize the program.

Heaven forbid that plans prevail to invest a certain amount of those checks in the stock market, as many pension plans have taken a bath in the current meltdown. While there have been past GOP plans to partially privatize the program, fortunately they have all failed. So far the Social Security trust fund remains tempting for the gamblers and other risk takers on the market.

In this age of corporate and lobbyist control, we need strong journalists like Helen Thomas.  I'm glad she has a byline again!

Originally posted to Musket Man on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 11:32 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  What an utterly disgusting thing.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for you and your upraters to be celebrating.

      It shows, more than anything, just how far the convergence between the far left and neo-nazi right has gone.


      Hell hath no fury like a cat ignored...

      by Gatordiet on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 04:28:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your comment on the other hand (0+ / 0-)

        shows, more than anything, just how far the Israel-first crowd will go in defense of the Zionist ideology.

        I'm sitting here with a close friend and neighbor who, only a few months ago, returned from his homeland (Israel) having spent a year and a half fighting against pro-Zioninst extremists like yourself while defending the rights of Palestinians and reasonable Israelis alike.  He seems amused by your self-righteous indignation, having see it all to often.

        Of course, he's another self-loathing Jew, right?

        •  LOL. No, i'm not at all part of the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          "Israel first crowd." (even though to bigots like you that term simply means "jew"). Nor am I a "pro-zionist extremist" (secret: I don't really care at all about Israel).  I do, however, care a lot about neo-naziism and anti-semitism, and your response is fairly typical of theirs.  

          But of course some of your best friends are jews...

          I mean, its fine if you want to walk and talk like a Neo-nazi...just don't cry when people call you on it.

          I bet you think that anyone who thinks African-Americans should have the right to vote is a "black power activist" too.

          Hell hath no fury like a cat ignored...

          by Gatordiet on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 05:18:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Helen Thomas (6+ / 0-)

    So right about Social Security.  Yet so wrong about relocating 6 million Jews out of their current state to somewhere that they suffered a genocide.

    People are truly multi-faceted.

    •  The usual discussion..... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fizziks, MinistryOfLove

      ...also tends to ignore the fact that she was clearly saying that Jews are Europeans and don't belong in Israel in the first place.

      •  Yes, it was clear, especially the... (5+ / 0-)

        "Get the hell out" part.

        I'm still waiting for President Obama to tell the voters why government is a good thing, why we need government oversight and regulations.

        by gooderservice on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 12:35:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  oh is that all (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leftynyc, Corwin Weber, rainmanjr

        she was clearly saying that Jews are Europeans and don't belong in Israel in the first place

        Well, that is certainly a non bigoted and historically accurate opinion

      •  yeah, but's that's not right either (0+ / 0-)

        unless you're willing to say that the palestinians who've been forced to find a home in other countries won't belong to their country, once it's reestablished

      •  I'm Chinese. Do I not belong in America? For (0+ / 0-)

        that matter, all of my neighbors are European. Do they not belong in America?

        Eskimo: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?" Priest: "No, not if you did not know." Eskimo: "Then why did you tell me?" (TEMP SIG LINE)

        by MinistryOfLove on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 02:02:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think that is a deliberate misinterpretation (0+ / 0-)

        of her comments.  To me it is clear that she was saying that Jewish settlers on invaded, contested property that is being stolen, right now, from Palestianian families who have lived there for years, are mostly recently arrived from Russia. And Germany and Poland, in addition to Israel, also have very favorable immigration policies in place for the purpose of attracting Jewish Russian immigrants today.  She meant that Russian Jews can take advantage of those generous offers for new homes instead of moving to Israel where they will be resettled on stolen land.  I don't see anything wrong or, worse, antisemitic, with voicing that opinion.

        •  Except for the fact.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ....that it inherently implies that Israel is 'stolen.'  Not the Territories, Israel.

          •  No it implies no such thing (0+ / 0-)

            unless one deliberately misinterprets it as such for one's own ends.  There is nothing in either the context of her comments nor the comments themselves that provide for interpreting them to mean anything other than the simple fact that current Jewish settlers on land that is being stolen today from Palestinian families are Russian immigrants who have the opportunity, unlike Jews in previous generations, to take advantage of generous resettlement offers in places like today's very civilized social welfare state of Germany.

        •  It is not a misinterpretation (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          You are creating a distinction that she did not make, she made no reference to settlers or to recent arrivals and she did not state that the Jews should return to Israel.

          Furthermore, regarding her anti-semetic mentality ...

          "Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists. No question, in my opinion," she said. "They put their money where their mouth is. ... We're being pushed into a wrong direction in every way."

          •  Zionist is not the same as Jew (0+ / 0-)

            "Zionism" today is a particular, right wing pro-settlement ideology that has proven problematic for achieving peaceful coexistence among Israelis and their Arab neighbors. It is akin to calling someone a Tea Party member.  "Jew," on the other hand, refers to an ethnic or religious category of people.  There is nothing from her comments to indicate that she means anything else by those terms.

            •  Zionism.... (0+ / 0-)

     the political movement for a Jewish homeland in Israel.  Full stop.

              •  No. It WAS that, once upon a time. (0+ / 0-)

                Today the word has an entirely different meaning, like it or not.  Like "gay" once just meant "happy."

                "Zionism" now means "Isreal's right to exist at all costs," having been hijacked by a neoconservative click of militarists for their own geopolitical ends.

                I, for one, don't believe that any state has a right to exist at all costs.  And neither do a growing number of progressive Jews and people of all backgrounds.

                I do, however, believe that Israel ought to exist, for the simple reason that while countries like the US traditionally accept elite segments of immigrants and refugees (according to the work of Israeli scholar Yinon Cohen), including Jews, it cannot be counted on to accept all Jewish refugees, so there should be a place that does.  (Jews and Palestiniams are not the only ethnic populations which face the problem of statelessness, by the way.)

                Problem is, that place has to maintain policies that will perpetuate its existence, not lead its eventually being overthrown by the dwellers of the slums that its own polices created, as occurred with the apartheid policies of the Afrikaner regimes in South Africa.  And Israeli policy today is on that self destructive path and needs to be changed before it is too late for the continued state of Israel.

            •  So you concur? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Zionists own the White House?

            •  No Zionist is not the same as jew... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dhonig, fizziks

              However, Zionist is often used as a dogwhistle for "jew" by bigots.  Apparently some on the left see no problem with this.

              Hell hath no fury like a cat ignored...

              by Gatordiet on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 04:31:12 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  You are wrong n/t (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

              by dhonig on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 06:09:15 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  wow, that is some serious twisting and turning (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Corwin Weber

          Thomas was talking only about current Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union?  

          •  basically, yes, she was (0+ / 0-)

            The context of the question and her controversial comments was within a larger discussion about the settlements issue that had hindered Obama's peace initiatives. So, yes, she was talking about today's settlement of Russian immigrants due to the right-wing "Zionist" policies of the current Israeli government and its American enablers among some elite segments of American society.  You can interpret it otherwise of course, but only if you pre-assume what you are trying to prove -- that Thomas is antisemitic.

            •  what abuot the statements about (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Corwin Weber

              who "controls" the media and congress?

              •  She used the word "zionists," not "Jews" (0+ / 0-)

                That's little different from saying that "Teabaggers" control the GOP.  Whether it is true or not does not take away from its being a valid, and non antisemitic, opinion.  

                She may very well be anti-Jewish, but I can't really see that her comments support that conclusion unless one first assumes that she is antisemtic in order to interpret them. That's a fundamentally dishonest approach for a person who had never been suspected as antisemitic before.

                •  This guy also used "zionist" instead of "jew" (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  eastsidedemocrat, fizziks

                  so he couldn't possibly be an anti-semite.


                  And I suppose if someone started talking about a "final solution to the zionist problem," you also wouldn't find that anti-semitic.

                  Hell hath no fury like a cat ignored...

                  by Gatordiet on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 04:32:45 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Good point. (0+ / 0-)

                    I concede that the word is conflated and therefore problematic.  What word would you suggest instead, though? "Neoconservative," maybe?  But that is not quite the same thing either.  

                    I think it just makes more sense to not assume someone is a bigot until they actually do something bigoted, like the Orthodox bishop you cited. There is no reason to interpret Thomas's comments as bigoted unless you already pre-assume that she is.

                    •  I would recommend criticizing specific people or (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      groups if you have a problem with what they are       advocating rather than saying "Zionist" which covers a whole lot of people who have a ton of differing views.

                      There is plenty of reason to interpret Thomas's comments as bigoted.

                      What evidence is there that "Zionists" as you seem to be using it (I.e. people who support the settlements) control wall street or Hollywood or the media or the white house?

                      Hell hath no fury like a cat ignored...

                      by Gatordiet on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 04:58:13 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Mearsheimer and Walt's (0+ / 0-)

                        book on the subject documents pretty well how one of the most powerful and comprehensive advocacy coalitions in the country is that which supports actively organizes support in America for the militarist agendas we see in Israel.

            •  Now you're just lying (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              the conversation was not about settlements or Russian immigrants.

              Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

              by dhonig on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 06:11:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thomas's controversial assertion (0+ / 0-)

                was that the people who were settling in Israel have other places they could be immigrating to (or staying in) instead, a factually true statement with regards to Germany, the US, and other countries which do, in fact, have immigration policies which favor Jewish immigrants or provide guarantees for safety and freedom to practice religion openly as Jews as great as or better than Israel does.  There is no reason to read anything else into her statements unless you assume beforehand that she must be anti-Jewish because of her Lebanese background, which itself would be a bigoted assumption to make about anyone.

  •  I was not one of the many... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fizziks, Gatordiet

    who was what many consider unfairly forced out of her job

    ...along with many friends and family.

    I'm still waiting for President Obama to tell the voters why government is a good thing, why we need government oversight and regulations.

    by gooderservice on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 12:29:20 PM PST

  •  If Michael vick can make a comeback (5+ / 0-)

    then so can Thomas.
    Vick tortured animals for fun and profit.
    Thomas made a bigoted remark.
    No one is perfect. But it seems we judge progressives (and especially women) more harshly.
    I'll cut her some slack. I've agreed with her on just about everything she's ever written (except for the Israel fiasco) and she is an important voice.

  •  Helen Thomas is an anti-Semite (6+ / 0-)

    and good riddance to her from the national scene.

    Forced from her job unfairly? Bullshit:

    We are owned by propagandists against the Arabs. There's no question about that. Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists.

    followed by:

    I just think that people should be enlightened as to who is in charge of the opinion in this country.

    and both of those came after her comments saying Jews should "get the hell out" and go back to Germany and Poland, as if (a) they weren't forced out, those few who weren't slaughtered, and (b) Jews lived in the region for millenia. She was espousing ethnic cleansing, and some people here seem to think that's okay.

    Sorry, folks, but the use of the word "Zionists" rather than "Jews" does not make the old anti-Semitic canard any cleaner.

    It is a pity she's employed again, and just damned embarrassing people on Daily Kos think otherwise.

    Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

    by dhonig on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 12:47:36 PM PST

    •  In this case, I can't agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lyvwyr101, laker

      You have to take the whole context of her career and character into account here. "Zionism" is, rightly or wrongly, today an often-used term indicating a particularly, right-wing policy of no accommodation to Palestinian claims for either statehood or to rights to their land in face of obvious cases of invasion (not purchase or otherwise lawful exchanges of right to land) by settlers backed by the Israeli government. And Germany and Poland, as well as Israel, actually have policies in place today to actively recruit the same, mostly Russian, Jewish immigrants to settle in their countries instead of in Israel. Germany is actively competing today with Israel for Jewish, Eastern European immigrants. There is nothing in the context of Thomas's comments to indicate that she thought that Jews should be ethnically cleansed by going to Germany and taking advantage of immigration opportunities there instead of going to Israel where the government will settle them on land stolen moments before from Palestinian families.

      •  Really? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fizziks, Corwin Weber

        No seriously, really?

        So you think "Zionists," when she says nothing at all about Israel but is talking about who actually owns Congress, Wall Street, the White House, and the Media, is really about right-wing policy of no accomodation to Palestinian statehood? Sorry, that just ripped the needle off the bullshit meter.

        Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

        by dhonig on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 02:03:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Um, those comments come from a conversation (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          about Israel, actually.  That's why context is important.  "Zionism," today, like it or not,  is a term that usefully distinguishes between Jews and the particular, right-wing advocacy of non-recognition of Palestinian rights to private property or their own national polity, irregardless of the religion or ethnicity of the person who holds those views.  It is possible to be both Jewish and anti-Zionist, as many progressive Jews increasingly claim to be.

          •  No (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fizziks, Corwin Weber

            it came in response to questions about her previous comments.

            The idea that Jews control Wall Street and the media is classic anti-Semitism, going back well before The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and repeated by Henry Ford. You can dance around it, or try to excuse it, as much as you'd like, but there is no escaping what she said, no matter that she substituted one word for another.

            Yes, it is possible to be Jewish and anti-Zionist. No question about it. But that is quite clearly not even slightly related to her barely-washed repetition of anti-Semitic garbage.

            Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

            by dhonig on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 02:20:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Is she actually saying that (0+ / 0-)

              "Jews" own congress, etc. like the Protocols narrative, or is she instead saying that people who advocate for right-wing Israeli policies happen to be in influential positions in such industries irregardless of their religion?  I don't have the quotes in front of me now, but I think that her use of the "Zionist" instead of "Jew" indicates her intent to distinguish the two categories.

              I appreciate your sensitivity to the protocols narrative, one that often gets used against perceived elites, such as Freemasons or Catholics in other contexts. I just think her use of the terms actually indicates her own sensitivity to avoid that narrative instead of indicating her complicity in perpetuating it.  But this is going to be an ongoing problem that we have to get beyond.

              It should be possible to criticize the Catholic Church's policies that led to sexual abuse without being accused of engaging in a "secret society conspiracy" narrative against Catholic clergy.  Likewise, it should be possible to criticize the right-wing policies of Israel and its US enablers without being accused of perpetuating the Protocols narrative.

              •  The sensitivity is feigned (0+ / 0-)

                Anytime someone around here criticizes Israel or the media and power brokers here in the US that continually run cover for Israel, the same retread argument conflating that criticism with anti-Semitism gets dropped in.

                You can dance around it, or try to excuse it, as much as you'd like, but there is no escaping the fact that the pro-Israel-at-all-costs lobby has a stranglehold on US policy regardless of party.  Their money, money that comes from Wall Street, Hollywood and beyond holds powerful sway in the halls of power.

                Is it any wonder Obama has treaded so lightly on Israel in the face of the murder of a US citizen at the hands of the IDF?

                I'm glad to see a voice of reason and truth return to the media.  Welcome back Helen.

                •  What garbage... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  the sensitivity to Thomas's anti-semitism is "feigned" in the same way that jews being upset at the Nazi's or the inquisition was "feigned."  But i'm sure you and your neo-nazi and far right allies are truly upset about the treatment of the palestianians, and don't just pretend to care because you hate jews.

                  Not at all.

                  I mean, you've pretty much parroted a statement straight from Der Sturmer...but if someone calls you an anti-semite, i'm sure they are just feigning it.

                  Hell hath no fury like a cat ignored...

                  by Gatordiet on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 04:35:21 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well now that's original (0+ / 0-)

                    You forgot to call me a Mel Gibson wannabe.

                    Sad thing is that every time folks like you recklessly toss around the knee-jerk charge of anti-semitism, you undercut any meaningful use of the charge when aptly applied.

                    •  But Mel Gibson isn't an anti-semite (0+ / 0-)

                      according to people like you.  He's just an anti-zionist.  

                      Of course, if Hitler were alive today, he'd be complaining that he couldn't even criticize Zionists and communists without being called anti-semitic.

                      Everytime someone like you complains about the charge of anti-semitism being thrown around in a situation like this just goes to show how many people who view themselves as "progressives" would actually be quite at home with the Klan.

                      Hell hath no fury like a cat ignored...

                      by Gatordiet on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 05:10:58 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, I can sleep soundly again. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fizziks, Corwin Weber

    Who cares?

    What she said was bigoted, insensitive, and displayed a stunning lack of historical knowledge.

    I'm not Jewish, and I was offended.

    When's the last time she was relevant journalistically, anyway? The Kennedy administration?

  •  She has every right to write and be read. (6+ / 0-)

    We have every right to ignore her or give her any respect regardless of the subject matter.

  •  Glad to see her back. (3+ / 0-)

    She made a stupid statement, no doubt out of anger and frustration with the one-sided coverage given to Israel. One mistake doesn't make anyone a bigot in my eyes. That this upsets the AIPAC crowd is icing on the cake.

  •  We need (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    about 200 more Helen Thomas now.

    Who is going to call out the WH or other politicians when they screw up?  The stenographers are the majority.. the good reporters are not covering the WH.  

    Good for Ms. Thomas!

    •  Don't worry, you have lots more than 200 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Helen Thomas's over at stormfront more than ready to call out the WH and other politicians.

      Hell hath no fury like a cat ignored...

      by Gatordiet on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 04:27:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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