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Helen Thomas
Helen Thomas - USNWR.jpg
Helen Thomas (1976)
Born Helen Thomas
August 4, 1920 (1920-08-04) (age 89)
Winchester, Kentucky, USA
Education Wayne University
Occupation Hearst Corporation Columnist
White House Press Correspondent
Spouse(s) Douglas B. Cornell (1971-1982) [1]
Official website

Helen Thomas (born August 4, 1920) is an American news service reporter, a Hearst Newspapers columnist, member of the White House Press Corps and author. She served for fifty-seven years as a correspondent and, later, White House bureau chief for United Press International (UPI). Thomas has covered every President of the United States since the later years of the Eisenhower administration, coming to the forefront with John F. Kennedy. She was the first female officer of the National Press Club, the first female member and president of the White House Correspondents Association, and, in 1975, the first female member of the Gridiron Club. She has written five books; her latest with co-author Craig Crawford is Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do.


Early life and career

Thomas was born in Winchester, Kentucky, to Lebanese Christian immigrants[2] from Tripoli, Lebanon.[3] She was brought up in Detroit, Michigan, and attended Wayne University (now Wayne State University), graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1942. Thomas's first job in journalism was as a copygirl for the now-defunct Washington Daily News, but shortly after she was promoted to cub reporter, she was laid off as part of massive cutbacks at the paper.

Thomas joined United Press International in 1943 and reported on women's topics for its radio wire service. Later in the decade, and in the early fifties, she wrote their "Names in the News" column, for which she interviewed numerous Washington celebrities. [4] After 1955, she covered federal agencies such as the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Thomas served as president of the Women's National Press Club from 1959–60.

Helen is well known for her very outspoken Anti-Israeli views and her strong support of Palestine. Helen also is not shy about her ultra Liberal views and she very openly displays her bias in her weekly column that she publishes.

Presidential correspondent

In November 1960, Thomas began covering then President-elect John F. Kennedy, following him to the White House in January 1961 as a UPI correspondent. Thomas became known as the "Sitting Buddha", and it was during Kennedy's administration that she began the tradition of ending all presidential press conferences with a signature "Thank you, Mr. President".

Thomas was the only female print journalist to travel to China with President Richard Nixon during his historic trip in 1972. She has traveled around the world several times with Presidents Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, and has covered every Economic Summit since 1975, working up to the position of UPI's White House Bureau Chief, a post she would hold for over 25 years. While serving as White House Bureau Chief, she authored a regular column for UPI, "Backstairs at the White House," which provided an insider's view of various presidential administrations.

She is the only member of the White House press corps to have her own chair in the White House Press Room. All other chairs are assigned to media outlets.

Resignation from United Press International

On May 17, 2000, after 57 years with the organization, Thomas resigned from UPI the day after the announcement of its acquisition by News World Communications Inc., a company founded and controlled by Unification Church leader Reverend Sun Myung Moon. She later described the change in ownership as "a bridge too far". [5][6]

Less than two months later, she joined Hearst Newspapers as a columnist, writing on national affairs and the White House.


  • Listen Up Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do. (with co-author Craig Crawford) (Charles Scribner's Sons, 2009) ISBN 1-4391-4815-5
  • Watchdogs of Democracy? : The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public (Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006) ISBN 0-7432-6781-8
  • Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President : Wit and Wisdom from the Front Row at the White House (Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003) ISBN 0-7432-0226-0
  • Front Row at the White House : My Life and Times (Scribner, 2000) ISBN 0-684-86809-1
  • Dateline: White House (Macmillan, 1975) ISBN 0-02-617620-3


  1. ^ Helen Thomas, www.nndmb. Retrieved on July 2, 2009.
  2. ^ Contemporary Heroes and Heroines. Vol. 3. Gale Research, 1998; Encyclopedia of World Biography Supplement, Vol. 19. Gale Group, 1999; Current Biography, H.W. Wilson Co., 1993.
  3. ^ Helen Thomas, Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times, Scribner, 2000, page 17.
  4. ^ Helen Thomas, Dateline: White House. Macmillan, 1975, page xiii.
  5. ^ Winter, Greg (2000-07-10). "Helen Thomas Is Back as a Columnist With Hearst". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  6. ^ Stout, David (2000-05-17). "Helen Thomas, Washington Fixture, Resigns as U.P.I. Reporter". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2008-03-07. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas (born August 4, 1920) is a reporter for the Hearst News Service, dean of the White House press corps, a White House correspondent, and King Features Syndicate columnist. Thomas has covered every President of the United States since JFK. Perhaps her most famous historical quote is "Thank you Mister President." This is how practically every presidential news conference was traditionally ended for over 40 years, from Kennedy to Clinton, and the honor was reserved for Helen Thomas to say. In 2003, the George W. Bush Administration put an end to this tradition.


  • This is the worst President ever. He is the worst President in all of American history.
    • about George W. Bush, said in Los Angeles while at a Society for Professional Journalism banquet event.
    • published in an article by John Bogert in the Torrance, California Daily Breeze January 19 2003.
    • According to Thomas this was supposed to be off the record. The reporter (assumedly Bogert) asked for her autograph after she spoke at the event. As she signed his copy of her book, he said to her, "You look sad?" She responded by saying "Well I am. I'm covering the worst president..."
      • Interview by Adam Holdorf for, March 18, 2004
  • The White House used to belong to the American people. At least that's what I learned from history books and from covering every president starting with John F. Kennedy. But now the 201-year-old Executive Mansion belongs only to a select, elitist group of people, including top government officials, members of Congress and the press corps. They and some others, all of whom are screened in advance, are welcome. But most people are not — not anymore.
    • Hearst newspaper column, November 28, 2001.
  • At the earlier briefing, Ari, you said that the President deplored the taking of innocent lives. Does that apply to all innocent lives in the world? And I have a follow-up... My follow-up is, why does he want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis? ...
    • White House briefing, January 6, 2003.
  • All presidents rail against the press. It goes with the turf.
    • Hearst newspaper column, October 15, 2003.
  • I don’t speechify. I know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. And that’s what I ask. But they get mad at the straight line. I just want to ask a tough question.
    • Interview by Adam Holdorf for, March 18, 2004
  • took a lot of chutzpah on the part of a lot of newspaper women who came here in the twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties to break down the barriers against women reporters. And we couldn’t even become members of the National Press Corps until 1971 — that’s pretty late in the game. We got the vote, which we should’ve been born with, in 1920. Everything we’ve had to struggle for — it’s ridiculous.
    • Interview by Adam Holdorf for, March 18, 2004
  • We've got to break through the wall of secrecy. It's America's fate.
  • It's the arrogance of power. 'We're in charge. It's our White House. What the hell are you doing here?' Basically toward the Press. 'How dare you question anything we do?' They don't understand that the presidential news conference is the only forum in our society where a president can be questioned. If he's not questioned, he can rule by edict; by government order. He can be a monarch. He can be a dictator, and who is to find out? No. He should be questioned and he should always be able to willingly reply and answer to all questions because these aren't our questions. They're the people's questions.
  • Every President hates the Press. Every president thinks that all information that comes to the White House is their private preserve after they all promise an open administration on the campaign trail, but some are even more secretive than others. Some want to lock down everything.
  • Both Blair and Bush have been found lacking in their credibility. Usually by this time a government would have fallen. I covered two presidents, LBJ and Nixon, who could no longer convince, persuade, or govern, once people had decided they had no credibility, but we seem to be more tolerant now of what I think we should not tolerate.
  • Well it wasn't a formal hanging. It was kind of subtle. I had covered him ...his first press conference. He dropped down into the press room and started taking questions and everyone asked about the tax cut and I sort of — Ari Fleischer later told me I blindsided him because I said to him 'Mister President, why don't you respect the wall of separation between church and state?' Well, there's a video of him that is so funny. He jerked back as if he had been hit! I mean both barrels! And he said 'I do respect-' I said 'well if you did, why would you have a religious office in the White House?' (I'm exagerrating, but anyway) and 'you're a secular official.' And he said 'I am secular.' Well anyway I got a call from Ari after that. After that there was a formal news conference and I did ask him a Middle East question and it wasn't the question per se. They just don't like my boorishness.
  • Get into the game!
    • Advice to up-and-coming journalists, quoted from "Calling Helen Thomas" in Saudi Aramco World (Vol. 57, No. 2) March/April 2006
  • You don't spread democracy through the barrel of a gun.

On Thomas

USA Today Reporter: What is the difference between your democracy and our democracy?
Fidel Castro: I don't have to answer questions from Helen Thomas.

External links

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