42 Seconds That Sullied Helen Thomas — and New Media

Media Politics in Perspective

By Paula Cruickshank

When Helen Thomas died on July 20, the tributes properly credited her for breaking the glass ceiling for women journalists and for being willing to ask the tough questions at the White House, no matter who was president, since John F. Kennedy occupied the Oval Office.

Most of the obituaries invariably discussed the late-in-life encounter that ended her career as a working journalist, one captured on video and shared with the world via YouTube — the infamous 2010 episode in which she called on Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine.”

Unlike the 1.8 million people (and counting) who have watched that video, I was present when it occurred. I am the unidentified reporter in the video who was with Thomas when the whole thing happened.

Helen, as those of us who covered the beat invariably called her, often posed questions at presidential news conferences…

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