Seven months after controversial comments about Jews and Israel to a “camera-wielding rabbi” led to the unraveling of Helen Thomas -- not to mention her assertion in a speech last month that "Congress, the White House, Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists" -- someone actually had the guts (or stupidity, or both) to hire her.
The 90-year-old syndicated columnist -- whose offensive, videotaped rant in June forced her early retirement from Hearst Newspapers and to vacate a prime seat in the White House press room -- has a new one in Virginia’s Falls Church News-Press newspaper.
The one with the guts: News-Press owner-editor Nicholas F. Benton, who defended his decision in an editorial.
"She is progressive,” Benton said in a statement. “And following my more than eight hours of direct, one-on-one talks with her since the events of last June, I remain firmly convinced that she is neither bigoted, nor racist, nor anti-Semitic."
Thomas’ syndicated column ran for six years in the News Press before her forced retirement.
"Ms. Thomas' comments were intemperate and inappropriate, as she conceded afterward," Benton continue. "Her remarks in June were in response to a question about Israel, not Jews, and were intended to mean that in these times, Jewish people are free to live wherever they wish, because the era of anti-Jewish persecution is ended. That was not adequately expressed because of the impromptu nature of the incident."
He added: "I am proud that a journalist of the stature and professionalism of Helen Thomas is relaunching her career, in her 90th year no less, in my newspaper. She more than deserves, and I am honored to help provide her the proverbial 'second chance.'"
In December, Thomas' alma mater -- Wayne State University -- killed a journalism award that had been given in her name after she made another series of anti-Semitic remarks. “We are owned by the propagandists against the Arabs,” Thomas said during a speech at a Michigan conference. “There is no question about that. Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion.”
Thomas will write a weekly political affairs column for the Falls Church paper. Her first column -- which makes no mention of the June or December controversies -- is on the privatization of social security.