It's a sad week for Detroit, first with the bankruptcy and then, with the death of one of its most cherished alumni. Helen Thomas, the Arab-American pioneering reporter who famously interrogated President George W. Bush on the war in Iraq passed away this week, at the age of 92.

Thomas' journalism career spanned almost 70 years, many of those years spent famously in the White House as a correspondent. Thomas had questioned every president since John F. Kennedy, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Daughter of Lebanese immigrants

Thomas was the seventh of nine children born to Lebanese immigrant parents in Winchester, Ky.

Her parents, George and Mary Antonious, Greek Orthodox Christians, originally hailed from Tripoli. They  fed Ottoman rule in 1890, coming to Kentucky.

The family name "Antonious" was changed to "Thomas" when the family entered Ellis Island. The Thomas family moved to Detroit when Helen was four years old.

The rise of Helen Thomas

In 1942, Thomas received her bachelor's degree in English from Wayne State. She moved to Washington D.C. shortly after and took a job as a copygirl for the Washington Daily News, where she was eventually fired.

It wasn't until 1960 that Thomas began covering presidential beats, reporting on then President-elect, John F. Kennedy.

Praise from Arab Press and Hezbollah

While the likes of Bill O'Reilly had criticism for Thomas, the Arab world had strong praise for Thomas, thanking her for her courage.

In 2010, Thomas retired, shortly after a video surfaced, where she suggested that the Jews in Palestine "go home" and "get the hell out of Palestine."

She eventually apologized for her remarks, but that nevertheless cost her, as she lost her front-row seat in the White House briefing room.

Read More:

Helen Thomas  (The Telegraph)

Helen Thomas (Wikipedia)

Pioneering front-row journalist Helen Thomas dies at 92  (CNN)


Helen Thomas in 2009


Helen Thomas at the Annual Book Fair, Author's Night, National Press Club, November 17, 2009. Photo by Michael Foley Photography via Creative Commons license.


Helen Thomas a legendary member of the White House press corps since the Kennedy administration speaks to a packed Statler -auditorium on April 9th 2007 at Cornell University Photo by Flickr user matt.hintsa


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