Sam Penrod ReportingA pioneer for women in journalism is in Utah today. Helen Thomas, known as the "First Lady of the Press" after more than 40 years as a White House Correspondent, spoke at BYU. And, despite her liberal views, Thomas used her charm and wit to gain applause from the conservative audience.
Ever since John F. Kennedy's first day in the White House, Helen Thomas sat with the White House Press Corp. She's covered every president of the United States since and says no president has ever liked the press.
Helen Thomas, ‘First Lady of the Press’: "The presidential news conference, I always have to tell everyone in this profession, it is the only form in our society where the president can questioned and presidents should be questioned about what they do."
During a forum speech at BYU today, Thomas says Presidents should fear the press so they feel accountable to the people. But today, unlike her objective news reports filed as a White House Correspondent, Thomas gave her opinions, editorializing against the Bush Administration's policies, specifically the war with Iraq.
Helen Thomas: "I thought it was wrong to invade a country without any provocation. Our leaders are now beginning to backtrack on some of the reasons they put forth for the war, so many it makes your head spin."
Even though the audience appeared to disagree, giving applause supporting the President, Thomas had a good-natured response. But after more than 40 years sitting on the front row in the White House briefing room, Thomas says every day she witnessed history being written.
Helen Thomas: "You can not be at the White House one day without feeling you aren't covering history."
And now Thomas herself is part of history, a long and distinguished career as a woman journalist, reporting front and center on the most powerful men in the world. Earlier this year, Thomas left her position as White House Bureau Chief for United Press International. She now writes a political column that appears in Hearst owned newspapers across the country.