What’s the age limit on making offensive comments?
White House correspondent Helen Thomas turns 90 in two months. She has reported from the US seat of power through 10 presidencies since 1960.
Last week she told a Jewish online news service Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine,” and “Remember, these people [Palestinians] are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not Germans’. It’s not Poland’s.”
This week the mounting pressure boiled over and her long and illustrious journalistic career was over. Poof. Fifty seven years of building a media legacy down the drain.
Once the comments, which originally went under the radar, made it into the mainstream via the Drudge Report, retribution on Thomas was swift and unforgiving.
Even though Thomas made a public apology on Sunday, the White House described her comment as “offensive and reprehensible”.
Yesterday Thomas resigned from her post as a columnist with Hearst Newspapers.
Friends have fled with incredible haste. And other have been left to lament an undignified end to an extraordinary career.
Thomas is not the first to lose almost everything because of something they said. In the US public figures are just one racist, sexist or bigoted comment away from career purgatory.
What ever you think of what Thomas said, it seems like she’s paid a particularly heavy price. Surely if an 89-year-old can’t be excused an off-colour remark, who can?
Does a few seconds undo decades? What if she’d been 99 instead of 89?
How old is old enough to get away with being outrageous?
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