Helen Thomas, a White House correspondent stretching back to the Kennedy administration, has died at 92. A friend, Muriel Dobbin, says Thomas died at her apartment in Washington on Saturday morning after a long illness that had her in and out of the hospital, AP reports.
As one of the first female White House reporters Thomas was a pioneer of her field. Thomas covered 10 presidents over nearly half a century, and became a legend in the industry.
She was a fixture at White House news conferences - sitting front and center late in her career - where she frequently exasperated government spokesmen with her pointed questions.
But her career ended ignominiously over comments she made regarding Jewish people. In 2010, a YouTube video surfaced showing her saying that Israel should "get the hell out of Palestine," and that the Jewish people should go home to "Poland, Germany ... and America and everywhere else."
At the time Thomas was writing a column for the Hearst newspaper chain, after decades as UPI's White House correspondent.
The comments by themselves might not have sunk Thomas's career. But critics said they highlighted biases that had long been evident in her work. The daughter of Lebanese immigrants, Thomas had long been a vocal critic of Israel. Conservative also suggested she was tougher in questioning Republican presidents than Democratic presidents.
Thomas grew up in Michigan, attending Wayne State University before heading to the nation's capital as a copygirl for now-defunct Washington Daily News.
She covered women's issues, but held onto the White House beat for UPI, staying for decades.
Thomas's professional legacy was the source for robust debate as the news of her passing spread.
Rest in peace Helen Thomas. We sparred. We laughed. I so admired her tenacity.- GeorgeStephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos) July 20, 2013
FLASH: Helen Thomas, ground breaking journo, late career anti-semite, dead at 92 http://t.co/W5xbzEVEcl- Adam Kredo (@Kredo0) July 20, 2013
Politix, and via AP.