Journalist Helen Thomas, First Woman to Join White House Press Corps, Dead at 92

Posted on July 20, 2013

Photo of Helen Thomas with President Obama on their birthday

She bedeviled presidents from Kennedy to Obama with her outspoken questions and her relentless pursuit of answers from the White House. Legendary journalist and Helen Thomas has died at the age of 92, report The New York Times. Thomas was the first woman to join the White House Press Corps and was the unofficial leader of the group, with her reserved seat right at the front of the room. Thomas broke through the glass ceiling in her profession. She was the first woman elected as on officer of the White House Correspondents' Association and was its first female president. She was the first woman elected to the Gridiron Club, which had been men-only for nearly a century. Thomas was with President Richard M. Nixon when he made his trip to China in 1972, and was the only female print journalist on the trip. She was known for her tireless work ethic and her blunt style.

Thomas worked for UPI for decades, but resigned when it was taken over by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's organization. She went on to write for Hearst. Thomas' career came to an end in 2010 when she was caught on camera remarking that the Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine." The video went viral and she lost her spot in the press room. She apologized for the video and said she deeply regretted her comments.

In this photo, President Barack Obama presents cupcakes with a candle to Ms. Thomas in honor of her birthday in the James Brady Briefing Room, on August 4, 2009. Thomas turned 89 that day. The president shares the same birth date: he turned 48 that day.

Photo: Pete Souza/White House
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