Helen Thomas, famed White House correspondent, dies at 92

Celebrated reporter and long-time White House correspondent Helen Thomas is dead at 92.

Thomas worked for 57 years at United Press International (UPI) and later as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers.

She was a White House reporter under 10 administrations, from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama. Her stature and tenure earning her a front row seat at press briefings.

President Obama said on Saturday that he was "saddened" to hear of Thomas' death.

Helen was a true pioneer, opening doors and breaking down barriers for generations of women in journalism. She covered every White House since President Kennedy’s, and during that time she never failed to keep presidents – myself included – on their toes. What made Helen the “Dean of the White House Press Corps” was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account. Our thoughts are with Helen’s family, her friends, and the colleagues who respected her so deeply.

Thomas was considered a trailblazer for female reporters seeking to break through the glass ceiling of a male-dominated profession.

Her career came to an abrupt end in May 2010 when she was recorded making controversial remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In an off the cuff remark to a Rabbi and blogger, she stated about Jews in Israel: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine." and "Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. It's not German, it's not Poland..."

She was quickly stripped of her column and later resigned from Hearst Newspapers.

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Thomas was the first women to join the White House Correspondents' Association and first woman to serve as its president.

She was also the first woman to join the Gridiron Club, a historic press organization.

Her death was announced by the Gridiron Club on Saturday:

"Former Gridiron Club president Helen Thomas, our first female member, died Saturday morning at her Washington apartment after a long illness," wrote Gridiron's Carl P. Leubsdorf, in an email to members.

"She would have been 93 next month."

She also led the National Press Association.

Thomas was born in Winchester, Ky. in 1920, and raised in Detroit. She was one of nine children.

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