Local Commentary

Editorial: Helen Thomas Marks a Year

We are happy to report that one year after Helen Thomas’ sudden and rude fall from grace because of a controversial remark she made, one taken out of context so that its meaning was twisted, she has achieved an amazing rebound as for the last six months a weekly columnist for the Falls Church News-Press.

Last Sunday night, Ms. Thomas appeared at an event in downtown Washington, D.C. and was received as a veritable rock star, which she truly is. Over 100 attended to hear her remarks and to wait patiently in a long line for her to autograph copies of her most recent book.

It’s been a climb, still in process, back to her rightful position as one of the most storied and legendary American journalists ever, a pioneer for the cause of women in the professions dating to the 1940s, and a resolute, unbreakable, uncompromising champion of the truth. We have been honored to have her as an exclusive weekly columnist since January, when after a six-month hiatus, she decided to relaunch her career at age 91.

This month marks the one-year point for her. It was on June 8, 2010, following a flurry of publicity surrounding the video taping of her offhanded comment, that she announced her retirement. But the interpretation of her comment by her adversaries as an anti-Semitic call for Jews to return to the conditions of the Holocaust, was far from what she meant. Edited out of many reports was the fact she’d included America among the nations to which Jews should return. That meant she was not making a sweeping anti-Semitic comment, but opposing the Israeli campaign to populate the West Bank with new Jewish immigrants. She was angry about the Israeli blockade of the Gaza, which led only two days later to an Israeli commando raid on a ship on a humanitarian mission to Gaza when a dozen volunteers were killed.

Our editor was quick to recognize Thomas’ actual intent. A long-time associate of Ms. Thomas who published her weekly column, then syndicated by Hearst, for years in the News-Press, he commented to that effect in his national affairs column of June 11, and by June 15 was on the phone with Al Moseke, a mutual friend, to convey to Thomas that he’d welcome a resumption of her weekly column in the News-Press whenever she was ready.

Naturally, it took awhile for Thomas to recover from the sting of being “thrown under the bus” so rudely, and without anyone seeking her side of the story.

But after some lengthy meetings with our editor, by December she was ready to come back. “I’m poison,” she cautioned. But we were not deterred, and the re-launch of her column in early January provided numerous important interview opportunities in the major media for her to set the record straight and begin the recovery of her amazing legacy. We are so happy for that, and to be a part of that.