In a few gruesome seconds, she just about undid all of it.
Thomas, 89, has retired. Effective immediately. It's what happens when you're unmasked.
It's like one of those scenes from "Mission: Impossible"---the ones where an undercover dude from IMF dramatically rips a prosthetic mask from his face, revealing that he isn't a 66-year-old banker, after all---but rather a 37-year-old secret agent.
Thomas, the reporter from Hearst Corporation who began covering the White House when John F. Kennedy had just moved in, took off her mask in a video unearthed on YouTube late last week.
She, essentially, called for all the Jews to leave Palestine and return to Germany, Poland, and the United States.
"Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," she said to RabbiLive.com.
Lanny Davis, who served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton, called for her firing, saying, "Helen Thomas, who I used to consider a close friend and who I used to respect, has showed herself to be an anti-Semitic bigot. This is not about her disagreement about her criticisms of Israel. She has a right to criticize Israel and that is not the same as being an anti-Semite."
Now, it's not as bad for Thomas to hold these views as the men she's covered over the years, but for someone who's sat up front in the White House press room for decades and whose charge it is to provide fair reporting and journalistic professionalism, this kind of stuff can't go unchecked.
Here's more Lanny Davis (and I agree with him): "If she had asked all blacks to go back to Africa, what would the White House Correspondents Association position be as to whether she deserved White House press room credentials---much less a privileged honorary seat?"
Hard to make the distinction between the two examples---one real, one hypothetical---isn't it? Maybe damn near impossible.
Thomas issued the old "close the barn doors after the horses are out" apology, but she should have saved her breath. There was no making this better.
Thomas and President Clinton
Thomas is a Detroit girl---sort of.
She was born in Kentucky, but grew up in Motown, graduating from Wayne State University way back in 1942. She's been covering politics in Washington for about 60 years, eventually getting the White House beat in 1960.
But now she's unmasked.
Now she shows us for who she really was/is, and it's not becoming.
It's ironic that Thomas's controversy should have exploded the same week as the 42nd anniversary of Bobby Kennedy's assassination.
For it was RFK's sympathy to Israel's situation which led to his murder at the hands of Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan, who stalked Kennedy for weeks before killing him.
"RFK must die" was written over and over in Sirhan's handwriting, discovered in a hotel room after the killing.
"Kennedy, you son of a bitch!" Sirhan yelled just before pulling the trigger on his gun.
Seems as though Helen Thomas and Sirhan Sirhan sort of share the same views.
Only, where Sirhan fired his gun at Kennedy, Thomas turned her gun on herself.