Millennium Post

Helen kept US Presidents on their toes: Obama

US President Barack Obama has openly acknowledged what some of his predecessors have felt about Helen Thomas, the feisty front-row White House journalist, who kept them on their toes.
Helen, 92, died in Washington on Saturday, 20 July.

She covered 10 presidents over nearly half a century, and became a legend in the industry.
She was a regular fixture at White House news conferences - sitting front and centre late in her career - where she frequently exasperated government spokesmen with her pointed questions.
In a condolence message, Obama said he was saddened to learn of the death of Helen. ‘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,’ the US President acknowledged.
‘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,’ he said. Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, recalled Thomas’ ‘tough- minded dedication.’

‘Helen was a pioneering journalist who, while adding more than her share of cracks to the glass ceiling, never failed to bring intensity and tenacity to her White House beat,’ the CNN quoted the Clintons as saying in a statement.

Helen began covering the White House for United Press International when John F. Kennedy became president in 1961 and was a fixture there until her retirement in 2010.
In January 2009, as President George Bush was preparing to leave office, she attacked him editorially.

Among her criticisms: that before the 9/11 terror attacks, Bush administration officials ignored ‘significant early warnings of an imminent strike against the US’.
She slammed Bush for eading the country ‘into a senseless war against Iraq.’
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