White House blasts absent Thomas in today’s briefing; Update: Thomas announces retirement; Update: WH briefing video added

posted at 12:15 pm on June 7, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Guess who didn’t show up for work today?  ABC’s Sunlen Miller reports that the seat normally occupied by Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas was mysteriously empty in today’s press briefing.  Thomas understood that the White House would have to respond today to her comments about sending Jews packing for Germany and Poland (and the US!) from a land where they have lived for five millenia, and Robert Gibbs provided the expected disapproval:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs today called Helen Thomas’ remarks, “offensive and reprehensible.”

“I think she should and has apologized,” Gibbs said at the daily briefing today, “Obviously those remarks are — do not reflect certainly the opinion of most people in here, and certainly not of the administration.” …

Helen Thomas’ front row briefing room seat was empty today, as she did not show up for the daily briefing.

Gibbs also told reporters that he hasn’t briefed Barack Obama on Thomas’ remarks as yet.  Does anyone buy that?  If Obama dropped by for an impromptu session with the White House press corps, wouldn’t Gibbs have warned Obama not to call on Thomas?

Meanwhile, Yid with Lid says that firing Thomas won’t really solve anything:

Strangely, though I think that Ms Thomas’ comments were horrible and very anti-Semitic I do not necessarily agree that Ms. Thomas should be fired for her anti-Semitic rantings. Helen Thomas is merely a symptom of the problem, not the disease. Firing her would be like treating HIV with a band aid.

The mainstream media which is politically correct about every other ethnic group, feature anti-Semites all of the time without barely a peep about their hatred. I wonder if there would be the same calls for Thomas’ head if she hadn’t already been considered something of a joke by the press corps, someone who has stayed on long past their time.

Just examine the facts; Pat Buchanan who is a holocaust revisionist has a daily gig on MSNBC. Some of Buchanan’s anti-Semitic greatest hits include being, labeled a Jew hater by William F Buckley, blaming the Iraq war on Jews in theAmerican Government, saying the Mossad was behind 9/11 and claiming there were too many Jews on the Supreme Court.

Neither does James Joyner, who marvels at the shock, shock of discovering Thomas is “a crazy old bat”:

Now, I’m no fan of Helen Thomas.  I thought she was an over-the-hill embarrassment during the Bush Administration.   The George H. W. Bush Administration.   She’s a lousy columnist and holds some rather bizarre views on a wide variety of subjects.  And, despite her being a pioneer who has refused to go away, I don’t think she should have a place reserved for her in White House press conferences, much less in the front row.

All that said, I’m with John Cole and Stacy McCain — a rather rare alignment of the poles! — in thinking it rather unsporting to continue piling on a crazy old woman for saying outrageous things.  The sky is blue.  Water is wet. Helen Thomas is a nut.

Beyond that, I’m befuddled that so many bloggers are so enthusiastic about getting someone fired over airing controversial views.   That’s the nature of our enterprise, isn’t it?

He makes a good point in that regard, but the rather extreme nature of cheering ethnic cleansing makes it a little difficult to get past her comments.  The argument for kicking her out of the briefing room, as I’ve seen it, is that Thomas is only there in an honorary capacity, having ceased being a news reporter decades ago.  No other opinion columnist gets that kind of perch in the briefing room, and her continued presence in an honorary position would tend to honor also her extreme views.  The solution to that would be to move Thomas to the back of the room, where other opiners normally go.

The other argument pertains to her employment at Hearst.  This is more of a tu quoque argument, in that the people defending Thomas would demand her termination if she had demanded that the federal government round up all illegal aliens, put them in camps, and deport them.  And that’s probably true, as we have seen in the reaction to Erick Erickson‘s hiring at CNN, for a much milder example of controversial statements, but if that was wrong, then so would be a demand for Hearst to fire Thomas for her outburst, which wasn’t really all that surprising, given her history of observations on the subject.  However, that doesn’t let Hearst off the hook for their relationship; if she’s an anti-Semitic bigot, then it’s fair game to point out that Hearst is giving her a platform and that those offended by it might want to take their business elsewhere.

This controversy won’t go away soon; supposedly, the same person has more video of Thomas expounding on her observations of Jews and Israelis.  We’ll see whether that pushes Thomas into retirement, whether she gets there first, or at all.

Update: Hearst just announced that Thomas will retire:

Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately.

Her decision came after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet.

Thomas later issued a statement: “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.’’

Thomas will mark her 90th birthday on Aug. 4.

The Hearst website is temporarily down, thanks to the traffic hitting the site.

Update II: Just one step ahead of the comeuppance, apparently:

“Helen Thomas’ comments were indefensible and the White House Correspondents Association board firmly dissociates itself from them. Many in our profession who have known Helen for years were saddened by the comments, which were especially unfortunate in light of her role as a trail blazer on the White House beat. . .

“[T]he incident does revive the issue of whether it is appropriate  for an opinion columnist to have a front row seat in the WH briefing room. That is an issue under the jurisdiction of this board. We are actively seeking input from our association members on this important matter, and we have scheduled a special  meeting of the WHCA board on Thursday to decide on the seating issue.”

Now they’re off the hook, but it does appear that the WHCA was prepared to take action.  Good for them, and they framed it properly, too.

Update III: It was Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher who asked the question of Gibbs this morning, which is interesting in that Tommy has defended Thomas on occasion:

Mediaite’s own Tommy Christopher asked if President Obama had “any reaction to the controversy over Helen’s remarks?” Gibbs was clearly ready for the question and made clear that her comments did not reflect the opinion of the White House.

Helen Thomas has enjoyed legendary status in the Press Room, in part due to her deserved status as feminist pioneer as well as her notoriety for holding administration’s feet to the fire over issues and policies with which she disagrees. And while her friends in the press briefing room are likely torn over seeing thier friend endure this controversy (of her own making by the way) there is growing sentiment that she might lose her job over her comments.

Tommy didn’t write the post; Colby Hall wrote it, both of whom are friends of mine. Tommy will have more thoughts on this story later today, focusing on the reaction in the White House press corps to the controversy. Should be interesting.


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Oh, boy, go to Drudge Report and the link to Craig Crawford, her co-author in the past saying “I will most certainly not be working on another book with her!”. Oh brother. As one person in the comments says, you don’t write a book with a person and sit side by side and not hear this ideology spouted long ago. Another clever person said “Oh, no. No new liberal book. Tens of tens will be heart-broken.”

Marcus on June 7, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Gibbs also told reporters that he hasn’t briefed Barack Obama on Thomas’ remarks as yet.

20 years of church and Obrawndo never figured out Jeremiah Wright was a racist. What makes you think less than a week of GOTLUTB (Grumpy Old Troll Living Under The Bridge) videos going viral would clue him in?

Tom_OC on June 7, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Hearst just announced her retirement, effective immediately.

SnarkVader on June 7, 2010 at 12:20 PM

She has announced her voluntary retirement.

katy the mean old lady on June 7, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Ace has it up that she is retiring.

When is Ace first with anything? It’s like up is down!

lorien1973 on June 7, 2010 at 12:21 PM

If Obama dropped by for an impromptu session with the White House press corps, wouldn’t Gibbs have warned Obama not to call on Thomas?

I don’t think Gibbs has to worry about Obama showing up to gab with reporters.

Mark1971 on June 7, 2010 at 12:21 PM

And Dan Rather welcomes her to the Journalism House of Disgrace. Population: 2 and growing.

sherry on June 7, 2010 at 12:22 PM

I’m not seeing the connection between rounding up illegal (therefore law-breaking) aliens and returning them to their home country to have a chance at re-entering legally and the idea of law-abiding Jewish residents of America being told to go “back” to Germany and Poland.

Maybe if I live as old as Thomas…and suffer a significant head injury…and somehow enter a paralell universe where I’m raised by bigots instead of my parents, I’ll understand a little better.

BTW, I’m glad Gibbs spoke up, but way to rail at an empty chair, dude.

DrAllecon on June 7, 2010 at 12:22 PM

Yay!! She’s retiring!

becki51758 on June 7, 2010 at 12:22 PM

Drudge says the old bag is going to retire?

csdeven on June 7, 2010 at 12:22 PM

Haha

that’s how crusty old lefties retires

say something that’s horribly wrong but is a pillar of their logic

And provide cover for fellow commies who then pretentiouslly castigate the offender

old commie lives out life with pats on the back from fellow scum commies

bfd

Sonosam on June 7, 2010 at 12:22 PM

I think it would be a good idea to use this incident to educate people on the history of that land. In as short and concise a way as possible. Many people think the jews just showed up there 60 something years ago when the state of Israel was created.

Dash on June 7, 2010 at 12:23 PM

It’s tough on the old girl, but at least she still has her looks.

EnglishMike on June 7, 2010 at 12:23 PM

Buh-bye, Helen.

John the Libertarian on June 7, 2010 at 12:23 PM

“Obviously those remarks are — do not reflect certainly the opinion of most people in here, and certainly not of the administration.” …

Who else in the WH press corps is an anti-semite?

madmonkphotog on June 7, 2010 at 12:23 PM

I heard she’s got a ticket on the next flotilla…

NYconservative on June 7, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Who else in the WH press corps is an anti-semite?

madmonkphotog on June 7, 2010 at 12:23 PM

I was wondering the same thing.

myrenovations on June 7, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Just examine the facts; Pat Buchanan who is a holocaust revisionist has a daily gig on MSNBC.

What? MSNBC has a show for the anti-Semite Pat Buchanan?
So that network not only gives shows to racist Chris Matthews and racist Keith Olbermann, but also to anti-Semite Pat Buchanan. Morally bankrupt network.

rbj on June 7, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Ed, an update is needed. Thomas is retiring, effective immediately.

conservative pilgrim on June 7, 2010 at 12:25 PM

this is crap, if any of the conservative folks said something like this, they would be calling for heads to roll from all levels, this would be major news in the msm 24/7….double standard big time…

she needs to go….

cmsinaz on June 7, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Sporting or not, this woman has said some offensive things over the years and cashed in on her ‘sassy old lady’ status to get away with it. Given her rants on the middle east, this level of bigotry doesn’t surprise. I’m just surprised she was dumb enough to say it on camera. Arrogant harridan.
She never deserved her special status; given the common vileness of her views and her inflated stature, she needs to hit every step on the way down from her pedestal. When the bus finishes going over her, they need to back up at least once. Good riddance.

austinnelly on June 7, 2010 at 12:26 PM

I understand that she is looking at a spacious rock in Florida to retire under.

Vashta.Nerada on June 7, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Ed, an update is needed. Thomas is retiring, effective immediately.

conservative pilgrim on June 7, 2010 at 12:25 PM

thank you!!

cmsinaz on June 7, 2010 at 12:26 PM

He makes a good point in that regard, but the rather extreme nature of cheering ethnic cleansing makes it a little difficult to get past her comments.

Ed, if Jimbo3 dances around today about you mentioning “ethnic cleansing” I hope you either humiliate him, ban him or both.

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 12:27 PM

Retirement, good. Maybe get her an apartment in Gaza.

rbj on June 7, 2010 at 12:27 PM

Who else in the WH press corps is an anti-semite?

madmonkphotog on June 7, 2010 at 12:23 PM

The over/under is 90%

Vashta.Nerada on June 7, 2010 at 12:27 PM

Good riddance. Take a bunch of your pals with ya.

Vile tool.

I always wondered what was wrong with the Krauts in the 1930′s.

Now I know.

Bruno Strozek on June 7, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Drudge’s headline is hilarious.

lorien1973 on June 7, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Who else in the WH press corps is an anti-semite?

madmonkphotog on June 7, 2010 at 12:23 PM

My thoughts exactly. I believe because of this Administration and it’s beliefs people like Helen Thomas finally feel free to spout their true opinions. I say keep it coming. It is showing the bigotry that really exists, not the bigotry the liberals try to plant on others.

truetexan on June 7, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Hearst should fire her…and deny her a pension.

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Under the bus with ye.

fiatboomer on June 7, 2010 at 12:28 PM

If these exposures continuous , the white house press will be extinct…

the_nile on June 7, 2010 at 12:28 PM

No doubt the hag will find a nice bridge in Palestine from which to scare goats….

HBowmanMD on June 7, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Who gets what’s left of her broom?

rileytod on June 7, 2010 at 12:29 PM

isn’t it funny that those leftists that suffer the most heat are the ones that actually say what they mean (cf, Thomas and Sestak)…?

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Here’s hoping she enjoys year 70 of her twilight years.

This worthless idiot’s employment is a tribute to how screwed up both Washington and “journalism” truly are.

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Gibbs also told reporters that he hasn’t briefed Barack Obama on Thomas’ remarks as yet. Does anyone buy that?

Yeah, I do. Obama is too busy with his social schedule. But I do think Gibbs briefed whoever it is that’s running the show in the WH.

Dusty on June 7, 2010 at 12:29 PM

There’s a rumor she’s going to replace Donny Deutsch on MSNBC.

It’s a rumor, because I just started it.

SlaveDog on June 7, 2010 at 12:29 PM

does Rev Wright now get that seat?

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Update: Hearst just announced that Thomas will retire:

What a disgraceful way to end one’s career. Her revealing words will be her epitaph, fittingly so.

The pressing question is who will take her place? Ideologically speaking. ///

conservative pilgrim on June 7, 2010 at 12:30 PM

When is Ace first with anything? It’s like up is down!

lorien1973 on June 7, 2010 at 12:21 PM

He’ll repost it in an hour and all will be well again.

LibTired on June 7, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Ding dong!

WisCon on June 7, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Where are the feminazis?

txhsmom on June 7, 2010 at 12:31 PM

All the news organizations keep reporting the controversy like this:

her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians

.

How about reporting that she told the Jews to move back to Germany and Poland. How about some actual reporting.

Shtetl G on June 7, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Update: Hearst just announced that Thomas will retire:

Er, isn’t Jimmy Carter ‘retired’? She’ll just become another martyr for left and will be free to engage in hate-speech.

EnglishMike on June 7, 2010 at 12:31 PM

ding dong the witch is dead!

cmsinaz on June 7, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Her thirty cats are elated by the news.

DFCtomm on June 7, 2010 at 12:31 PM

She found out she was retiring this morning when her passwords didn’t work.
Now she can file an age discrimination suit.
..and sex discrimination.

seven on June 7, 2010 at 12:32 PM

How about some actual reporting.

Shtetl G on June 7, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Rehabilitation starts quickly. And in a few months, you’ll see glowing retrospectives of her everywhere.

lorien1973 on June 7, 2010 at 12:32 PM

She must be really chuffed since her views are closely aligned with this administration. They don’t want her around to draw any more attention to their treatment of Israel.

Maybe she can commiserate with Jerry Wright.

Cody1991 on June 7, 2010 at 12:32 PM

What’s disgusting is that it took this scandal to force her out. How she felt and what she thought was well known. You didn’t need her to explicitly say what she did to know she felt this way. You could know from any other “straight from the horse’s mouth” statements she has made over the years decades centuries.

Aquateen Hungerforce on June 7, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Hey now….

We must give consideration to the idea that her recently expressed opinion was formed over the last few months, and prior to that re-formulation, she was a devout supporter of Israel and Jews world-wide.

Hmmmm….nah.

BobMbx on June 7, 2010 at 12:33 PM

And another long career comes to a crashing end.

KillerKane on June 7, 2010 at 12:33 PM

who gets the ruby slippers? and have you seen her sister and her flying monkeys?

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Good riddance, you old Jew-hating b***h. Your absence is a breath of fresh air.

MadisonConservative on June 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

I’ve waited decades for this moment. Anyone have a cigar?

Jim-Rose on June 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

out in a blaze of..

blatantblue on June 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Were these not simply “misplaced words”?

if these was another unlucky case of misspeaking, or misplacing words, then she should just hang in there…

/blumenthal

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Helen ‘s version of the ‘Dan Rather Sudden Retirement For Being Exposed As A Douchebag’ plan

Bishop on June 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

..and sex discrimination.

seven on June 7, 2010 at 12:32 PM

Can we have a “So let it be written, so let it be done” moment at Hot Air, where the words “Helen Thomas” and “sex” are never written together?

My bile thanks you.

Darksean on June 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

American Power tracked-back with, ‘Helen Thomas Announces Retirement’</a?

Donald Douglas on June 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

The White House Press Corpse is missing its Corpse

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 12:35 PM

I’ve waited decades for this moment. Anyone have a cigar?

Jim-Rose on June 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Bubba’s been saving one. Don’t know how good it is though…

Darksean on June 7, 2010 at 12:35 PM

lorien1973 on June 7, 2010 at 12:32 PM

Doubtful.

Maybe if she were a Democrat politician, but I think everyone agrees that it’s time to move on and forget this old witch ever existed.

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Excellent picture choice Ed!

Inanemergencydial on June 7, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Can we have a “So let it be written, so let it be done” moment at Hot Air, where the words “Helen Thomas” and “sex” are never written together?

My bile thanks you.

Darksean on June 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

I second the motion.

The clerk will call the roll………

BobMbx on June 7, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring fired, effective immediately.

I hope Vince McMahon did the honors.

Denverslim on June 7, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Her face will be missed and her lovely, smooth voice when she asks intelligent questions.

Just kidding.

carbon_footprint on June 7, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Bubba’s been saving one. Don’t know how good it is though…

Darksean on June 7, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Ew.

Jim-Rose on June 7, 2010 at 12:36 PM

So will Helen’s magical front row seat now be occupied by that fool who asked PBHO if he felt enchanted? There is no way that Gibbs will allow anyone up there who is even remotely against PBHO’s policies.

Bishop on June 7, 2010 at 12:36 PM

I wonder who will get her seat now.

Meanwhile, in World Jewish Conspiracy Headquarters on 47th and 5th in Manhattan, not applause or sorrow, but satisfaction…

KillerKane on June 7, 2010 at 12:37 PM

It was Helens martyrdom operation.

BL@KBIRD on June 7, 2010 at 12:37 PM

madmonkphotog on June 7, 2010 at 12:23 PM

I also thought that was a weird way of putting it.

“Obviously most people here are not Nazis.” – wouldn’t sound as good, would it?

Phoenician on June 7, 2010 at 12:37 PM

“She’s a very ugly women or a very pretty monster.”

- Lou Costello of Abbot and Costello

(not talking about her looks either)

mechkiller_k on June 7, 2010 at 12:37 PM

I guess that’s one more job Obama didn’t save or create.

AUINSC on June 7, 2010 at 12:37 PM

Host of new show on MSNBC in 3…2…

Jim-Rose on June 7, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Now, today….TODAY is the day when Obama needs to flub the pronunciation of “corps” with “corpse”…..ohhhh the comedy gold we could wring out of that….!!!

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Hearst just announced that Thomas will retire

I happen to think the First Amendment protects hateful speech, and I hate PC. But I’m very glad to see her go.

Ding dong the witch is dead.

petefrt on June 7, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Cue up the band!

Nah nah nah nah
Nah nah nah nah
Hey hey hey
Goodbye!

steveegg on June 7, 2010 at 12:38 PM

“Hey , if they fired every anti-semite journalist there would no one left” Jake Tapper.

the_nile on June 7, 2010 at 12:38 PM

good luck out there in that economy Helen….er wait..?!

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 12:39 PM

Next up, that dude with the “enchanted” question.

NickelAndDime on June 7, 2010 at 12:39 PM

It could not have happened to a sweeter person. Thank you, Rabbi. God bless.

kingsjester on June 7, 2010 at 12:39 PM

Congrats, Helen. Everyone will remember your last words…Juden Raus.

Asher on June 7, 2010 at 12:39 PM

Maybe CAIR is looking for a media relations person?

Inanemergencydial on June 7, 2010 at 12:40 PM

May she be remembered in infamy.

dczombie on June 7, 2010 at 12:40 PM

The White House Press Corps want to act like their favorite crazy aunt just went nuts two seconds before she followed the liberal line to its obvious logical conclusion.

She has been exactly like this for at least as long as I have been alive. And they all treated her like royalty that whole time.

logis on June 7, 2010 at 12:40 PM

So Al-Jazeera just got a hot new weather girl?

“Cloudy in Tel Aviv with a chance of VX. Back to you, Ahmad!”

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 12:40 PM

Man I love watching lib journalists retire in disgrace.

thirteen28 on June 7, 2010 at 12:41 PM

“Obviously those remarks are — do not reflect certainly the opinion of most people in here, and certainly not of the administration.”

Fat, Pink White House Press Flack

Interesting…why would pork-boy feel compelled to point out that this raving left wing nutjob who shares a myriad of public policy positions with O’Baama doesn’t actually speak for the administration?

Jaibones on June 7, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Hearst gave Thomas a choice: either you pour water on yourself or we pour it.

Also, I have to confess, my heart stopped for a moment when I saw Ed’s update: Thomas announces retirement. Clarence Thomas? Oh, no! Thank God; I snapped back into reality. All the same, my fears are many with Obama in office and Dems controlling Congress.

BuckeyeSam on June 7, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Did someone get the license plate on that bus?

Wyznowski on June 7, 2010 at 12:42 PM

The mainstream media which is politically correct about every other ethnic group, feature anti-Semites all of the time without barely a peep about their hatred.

Of course, if you remove the ethnic qualifier, Catholics and Catholicsm are also fair game.

As for the “resignation” I can’t help but wonder who she’s going to blame for all this.

Blaise on June 7, 2010 at 12:42 PM

I wonder if she and June Lockhart will form a car pool.

I read an article years ago that said June Lockhart was a regular visitor to the White House press room. June can drive, being only 85 and all.

Jaynie59 on June 7, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Goodbye you old bat. Maybe you should go back to Lebanon. I’m sure they’d welcome you with open arms.

mjk on June 7, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Did someone get the license plate on that bus?

Wyznowski on June 7, 2010 at 12:42 PM

Yeah. It read, “I WON”.

kingsjester on June 7, 2010 at 12:43 PM

DING DONG, THE WITCH IS DEAD!

Mutnodjmet on June 7, 2010 at 12:44 PM

Go ahead, Helen, amuse us.

Blame Bush for your demise and fall from grace.

Go ahead! We dare you!

pilamaye on June 7, 2010 at 12:44 PM

She’s just lke a sudversive in the Iraqi government

she was a asset for the lef and the time came to blow herself up to provide cover for dumbos bunch

ignore this fiasco

she’s dead now but there are more

let’s make them use them up

they will run out

Sonosam on June 7, 2010 at 12:44 PM

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