Thomas was part of the press corps for 50 years and covered stories on every president from John F. Kennedy until Barak Obama.
The former Senior White House Correspondent began her journalism career as a radio writer for United Press in 1943. And even then, she made her mark, and often broke barriers.
Obama released a statement on Thomas’ death, reports The Wall Street Journal. In the release, the US president wrote:
“Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Helen Thomas. Helen was a true pioneer, opening doors and breaking down barriers for generations of women in journalism.”
The press corps member made her mark by covering tough news, rather than homemaking, child rearing, and other things usually expected to be covered by a woman. Helen Thomas was certainly a pioneer, being the first woman elected to the White House Correspondents’ Association. She also served as the organization’s president. Obama added:
“[Helen] covered every White House since President Kennedy’s, and during that time she never failed to keep presidents — myself included — on their toes.”
The US president went on to say, “What made Helen the ‘Dean of the White House Press Corps’ was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account.”
And that streak was enough to make her a controversial subject in the world of journalism. But even if they disagreed with her, peers and presidents respected Helen Thomas, and President Obama was no exception. He added, “Our thoughts are with Helen’s family, her friends, and the colleagues who respected her so deeply.”
Funeral arrangements for Helen Thomas have not yet been released, and it is not yet known whether or not President Obama and other former presidents could attend.