Helen Thomas, who was the White House correspondent for United Press International from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton, then continued on for other organizations through to Barack Obama until advising Jews to go back to Germany and Poland, is dead at 92. Read the UPI obit here.
I have an unabashedly soft spot for Thomas due to working and drinking with her in Prague 19 years ago. After the 2010 controversy, I wrote a piece examining what it can tell us about the transition from "objective" to opinion journalism. A sample from that:
The longer someone is submerged in what they and their organizations regard as traditional "straight" reporting, the more gruesome the results are when the gloves come off. As Thomas herself reportedly said in a 2002 speech, "I censored myself for 50 years…. Now I wake up and ask myself, 'Who do I hate today?'"
Straight reporters have been taught for six decades to submerge or even smother their political and philosophical views in the workplace. Like all varieties of censorship, this process creates resentment and distortion. Whatever it is that you feel prevented from saying, you will be more likely to scream once given the chance. This is why, for example, some of the most politically opinionated people you'll ever meet are newspaper reporters a couple drinks in out yakking with their colleagues.
Degrading the quality of that discussion still further is the likelihood that the partisanship-averse journos haven't bothered to construct their own self-conscious political philosophy, beyond identifying Bad Guys and wanting to Fix Problems. Show me the world's most intractable problems–the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the inability to produce mass amounts of energy without negatively impacting the environment, the search for a beer that tastes great and is less filling–and I'll show you reporters in bars having conversations worthy of the Alex Jones show. It's not that they're all Helen Thomases–she is truly one of a kind–but that in the absence of subjecting their own beliefs to journalistic rigor, they are more likely than many would expect to quietly nurture beliefs that outsiders would find surprisingly slanted and even extreme.
For these and other reasons, when straight reporters transition to opinion journalism, one of the first things to go is the "journalism" part of it.
Whole thing here. RIP, combat-boots lady!