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Longtime White House reporter retires after controversial remarks

06-08-2010 07:25 BJT

WASHINGTON, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Employer of longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas on Monday announced her retirement after the 89 year-old reporter made controversial remarks regarding Israel that sparked criticism from the White House.

Media company Hearst Corporation said in a statement that Thomas is ending her career spanning decades, effective immediately, after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet.

Thomas, who covered every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy, while attending a Jewish American Heritage Month celebration on May 27 at the White House, told a website on video that it was time for Israel to "get the hell out of Palestine."

She said Jewish people should leave Israel and go back to Germany, Poland or the United States. The comments were posted on the website and spread instantly on the internet.

The remarks were criticized by the White House, with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs saying it was "offensive and reprehensible. " It was also rebuked by the White House Correspondents' Association.

Thomas will mark her 90th birthday on Aug. 4. She was born to a couple of Lebanese immigrants in Kentucky in 1920. She started her journalism career in 1942, and went on to became a fixture in the White House briefing room, as well as the White House bureau chief for the United Press International (UPI). She quit UPI and began writing a column for Hearst newspapers in 2000. Through her career, she authored five books, and served as president of the White House Correspondents' Association as well as officer of the National Press Club.

On her website, Thomas issued an apology for her remarks, saying she deeply regrets them, and "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."

Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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