When Ms. Thomas got a job as a radio writer for United Press in 1943 (15 years before it merged with the International News Service to become U.P.I.), most female journalists wrote about social events and homemaking. The “real” journalists — the ones who covered war, crime and politics and congratulated one another over drinks at the press club — were men.
She worked her way into full-time reporting, and by the mid-1950s was covering federal agencies. She covered John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1960, and when he won, she became the first woman assigned to the White House full time by a news service.
Ms. Thomas was also the first woman to be elected as an officer of the White House Correspondents’ Association and the first to serve as its president. In 1975, she became the first woman elected to the Gridiron Club, which for 90 years had been a “men only” bastion of Washington journalists.
Thomas is a challenging figure—one who earned decades of respect from her peers, only to watch her career dramatically take a turn when she made widely-criticized comments about Israel and Jews. Somewhere in the last decade she lost the plot, sadly. But she nonetheless had earned such a high level of success that the disappointment when she threw it away with her comments was massive.
July 20, 2013 // 11:16 // 1 year ago