Reporter Helen Thomas died at home in her Washington DC apartment, surrounded by her loved ones. She was 92 and had been ill for years, according to a friend. Covering every president from JFK to Barack Obama, Thomas was an excellent reporter, in her own right, whose no-nonsense, probing questions made George Bush uncomfortable. But on top of these achievements, Thomas was a pioneer for women journalists and was a first in many things. For instance, Thomas
- is considered the first woman to write about things not considered the “women’s beat,” which the AP defines as “the soft stories about presidents’ kids, wives, their teas and their hairdos.”
- was the first female White House bureau chief for a wire service (for UPI in 1974)
- was the first female officer at the National Press Club (also in 1974)
- was the first female member and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association
- was the first female member of the Gridiron Club, a news society.
Thomas was forced to retire from Hearst after making insensitive comments that were considered controversial about Israel. The backlash against Thomas revealed the bias and double standard in the media, when it comes to the Middle East.