Helen Thomas, Legendary Liberal

Long-time UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas quit yesterday, a day after the wire service was sold to News World Communications, the owners of the Washington Times, affiliated with the Unification Church. Thomas didn't say she was looking for a new gig because UPI was now owned by conservatives.

But UPI International Editor Lee Michael Katz also resigned, telling The New York Times "I cannot work for the new owners." He was not surprised Thomas joined him: "Look at the timing of this, and Helen's devotion." A look at a few quotes shows Thomas's devotion to liberalism [see box]. At a Milwaukee lunch in March, she announced George W. Bush and John McCain "are about as far right as you could get without dropping off the edge."

Ronald Reagan. On December 30, 1988 Thomas recalled the Reagan era on the CBS show Nightwatch: "I think there's a question mark on the domestic policy: I think he left an uncaring society...a government that was not as concerned."

In the July 1993 Good Housekeeping, Thomas elaborated: "All of us who covered the Reagan's agreed that President Reagan was personable and charming. But I'm not so certain he was nice. It's hard for me to think of anyone as nice when I hear him say 'The homeless are homeless because they want to be homeless.' To my mind, a President should care about all people, and he didn't, which is why I will always feel Reagan lacked soul."

Jimmy Carter. In the same interview, Thomas stated: "In Plains, I saw Jimmy Carter as he really is - a nice, decent man....in terms of compassionate contribution to society, he certainly has proven to be our best past President."

The Kennedys. Thomas discussed the death of JFK Jr. on CNN's Reliable Sources last July 18: "Everything that happened to the First Family, they added a certain glamour everybody could tie into in some way. And I think that's what happened. We think of the family. We think of all of the tragedies and the glamour and the mischief and so forth all wrapped up into one, but mostly hope."

Bill Clinton. Tom Brokaw declared, "Helen was always fair and never intimidated." But Thomas avoided asking about Juanita Broaddrick's rape charges in a press briefing the day The Wall Street Journal broke the story on February 19, 1999. Instead she asked Clinton what was learned "from your 13 month ordeal?"

She did pose a vague Broaddrick question days later. Then on March 5, 1999, she asked about Kosovo, and hit Clinton from the left: "my other question is how can you justify chipping away at the ABM treaty which helped keep the peace during the Cold War and pour billions and billions into a Star Wars defense against the possibility that starving North Korea may fire a missile at us?"

On October 14, 1999, she rued the defeat of a nuclear test-ban treaty: "Mr. President, hasn't the treaty rejection really wiped out our moral authority to ask other nations around the world to stop testing? And was there - do you think there was a personal element in the Republican [vote], a personal vendetta against you?" - Tim Graham