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Should Helen Thomas have lost her job over comments about Jews and Israel?

Helen_thomas (UPDATE: According to Fox News, Politico and a few other reporters, Helen Thomas has announced her retirement, capping 50 years of reporting on the White House with an ugly slur against Israeli Jews.)

Minutes ago, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called Helen Thomas' recent comments about how Jews should leave Israel "offensive and reprehensible."

That he wound up commenting on Thomas during a press conference with Thad Allen on efforts to gain control of the BP oil spill, only highlights the big pile of controversy the longtime White House correspondent stepped in with comments even she later admitted were regrettable.

After telling a camera for that Jewish Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine," Thomas faced calls from some pundits to lose her job as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. Already, the agency which books her for speeches has dropped her, along with collaborator and CQ columnist Craig Crawford. A high school in Maryland which had her scheduled as its commencement speaker said both sides agreed she should not appear.

You know you're in trouble when former aides to both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton criticize you, and Judith Miller, the reporter whose excesses helped enable the Iraq War, also feels free to pile on.

Now Heart has announced she is retiring, effective immediately: "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."

For those who felt the 89-year-old journalist was too anti-Israel, a too-outspoken leftist, an increasingly erratic rabble-rouser or just too old for the job -- all now have their ammunition.

Even Thomas' apology didn't really address what has angered many: Her statement that the Jews now living in Israel have no right to live there at all.

Some will say this is the danger which comes from staying too long in a journalism job which as moved past you -- no matter how good you were or how long you've done it, there may come a time when you make a mistake which stains your entire legacy.

Here's the clip. Feel free to weigh in with what you think.

[Last modified: Thursday, August 12, 2010 2:15pm]


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