Pioneering Journalist Helen Thomas Passes Away

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I was lucky enough to have an email correspondence with Ms. Thomas a few years back, and she was as irrepressible and feisty as you would have thought. I regret I never could accept her invitation to lunch. No need to gloss over her failings, she was as adamant in them as she was her virtues.

WASHINGTON — Helen Thomas, the irrepressible White House correspondent who used her seat in the front row of history to grill nine presidents — often to their discomfort and was not shy about sharing her opinions, died Saturday. She was 92.

Thomas, who died at her apartment in Washington, had been ill for a long time, and in and out of the hospital before coming home Thursday, according to a friend, Muriel Dobbin.

Thomas made her name as a bulldog for United Press International in the great wire-service rivalries of old, and as a pioneer for women in journalism.

She was persistent to the point of badgering. One White House press secretary described her questioning as “torture” — and he was one of her fans.

Her refusal to conceal her strong opinions, even when posing questions to a president, and her public hostility toward Israel, caused discomfort among colleagues.

(snip)

In her long career, she was indelibly associated with the ritual ending White House news conferences. She was often the one to deliver the closing line: “Thank you, Mister. President” — four polite words that belied a fierce competitive streak.

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