The fallout from veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas’ controversial remarks about Israel continues in the wake of her resignation.
Thomas reportedly told a rabbi last week “that Jews should ‘get the hell out of Palestine’ and go back to Germany and Poland,” according to the Washington Post.
Her resignation was effective immediately Monday and a statement on her Web site displays an apology that says she deeply regrets the remarks.
But the legacy of Thomas, 89, is at stake now as the Society of Professional Journalists is considering renaming its prestigious award, the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement.
SPJ Kevin Smith told the Washington Post:
“I’m not personally inclined to advocate for this. Helen Thomas has been a member and supporter of SPJ for a very long time, and do we throw all that away for this last transgression? On the other hand, if you were Jewish and given this award, would you go up and accept it? Without taking a knee-jerk approach, you need to consider other perspectives.”
A White House reporter for 50 years, speculation has been rampant about the stain Thomas will leave behind.
In a piece titled, “Helen Thomas: From Pioneer to White House Irritant,” CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller noted: “But in her later years, after leaving the hard news environment of (United Press International) and becoming a columnist for Hearst, Thomas made no pretense at objective reporting. Her questions at White House briefings and press conferences often reflected her political opinions and agenda – much to the irritation of the press secretaries and even presidents she covered.”
Another article with a slightly softer tone by the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank pointed out: “It was a sad end to a storied career.”