MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
And now we just wanted to take a moment to remember Helen Thomas, who deserves so much more than a minute. She died Saturday at the age of 92. If you follow politics at all, then you will surely have seen her in the front row of the White House press room asking questions of 10 presidents, because of her almost 60 years of service for United Press International and later Hearst News Service, she was known as the dean of the White House press corps, given the honor of asking the first question at press conferences and closing the sessions with a pleasant but firm, thank you, Mr. President.
In her later years, it was easy to forget how hard Helen Thomas had fought for that seat, as one of the first women journalists covering hard news on an ongoing basis, and how hard she fought for candor and truth from our nation's top leaders on behalf of all citizens. Her last professional moments were marred by intemperate remarks to a White House visitor, but that lapse of courtesy is noteworthy because it was so rare. Helen Thomas demonstrated respect but not deference to our nation's highest leaders, and also, increasingly rare, respect and admiration for the work of her colleagues. She will be missed and will be impossible to replace. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.