US

Lefty Virginia paper hires embattled Helen Thomas

Jeff Poor Media Reporter

She wasn’t gone for long.

In June 2010, Helen Thomas lost her Hearst Newspapers columnist job and her front-row seat in the White House briefing room for making remarks about Jews in Israel that were perceived anti-Semitic, suggesting Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Germany and Poland.

She’s back now, at least in the Washington, D.C.-market. The Falls Church News-Press reported on Thursday it had hired Thomas to write a weekly column.

“She is progressive, and following my more than eight hours of direct, one-on-one talks with her since the events of last June, I remain firmly convinced that she is neither bigoted, nor racist, nor anti-Semitic,” Falls Church News-Press owner-editor Nicholas Benton said in statement that appeared in the Jan. 6 edition of the News-Press. “I am proud that a journalist of the stature and professionalism of Helen Thomas is relaunching her career, in her ninetieth year no less, in my newspaper. She more than deserves, and I am honored to help provide her the proverbial ‘second chance.'”

However, since making those infamous remarks, Thomas hasn’t shied away from her outspoken position on Jews. In December, she doubled down on her stance speaking to an Arab-American group in Dearborn, Mich.

“We are owned by propagandists against the Arabs,” she said according to the Dec. 6 Detroit Free Press. “There’s no question about that. Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where there mouth is…We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way.”

Thomas was long known as the “dean of the White House press corps” and her first column for the News-Press appeared in the same edition and warns against the dangers of privatizing Social Security.

The Falls Church News-Press is an inside-the-beltway weekly paper with a staunchly liberal editorial page that especially prides itself in having a tradition of championing gay and lesbian rights issues.

UPDATE: Elan Steinberg, vice-president of American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants offers a statement in reaction Thomas hiring:

“Mr. Benton may hire whomever he wants, but his whitewash of Helen Thomas’ monstrous comments is unacceptable and a disgraceful perversion of facts.  This is particularly unseemly for a member of the journalism profession.

In June, we were aghast when Helen Thomas shockingly told Jews in Israel to go back to places where our families were burned and gassed during her living memory.  Compounding this, last month she repeated the anti-Semitic canard that “Zionists” control the government and Wall Street – a monstrous harangue we know only too well.

The issue here is not whether Mr. Benton can hire her to write – of course he can.  But in misrepresenting the heinous character of her remarks, he has disgraced himself”.