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Helen Thomas, White House News Reporter, Dies at 92

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- White House journalist Helen Thomas, 92, died after a long Illness, CNN reported Saturday.

Thomas had been ill for a long time, and in and out of the hospital before coming home Thursday, according to a friend, Muriel Dobbin, The Wall Street Journal reported in an AP story.

Starting out in journalism as a copy girl in a small Washington newspaper, Thomas joined the White House press corps in 1961 and worked there for United Press International and Hearst newspapers until her retirement in 2010, the BBC said.

Thomas served as White House correspondent for United Press International for 57 years and later as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers, BloombergBusinessweek reported. She covered 10 U.S. presidents from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama as they confronted the Cuban missile crisis, wars in Vietnam and Iraq, the Watergate scandal, oil shortages, the nuclear arms race and economic crises.

Thomas was the first woman elected president of the White House Correspondents Association and the first woman member of the Gridiron Club, a fraternity for inside-the-Beltway journalists.

Colleagues called her the unofficial dean of the White House press corps, The New York Times reported. Her blunt questions and sharp tone made her a familiar personality not only in the sometimes parochial universe inside the Beltway but also to nationwide television audiences.

Her career ended under a cloud in 2010 after she said in an interview that Israeli Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Germany, Poland and America, the BBC reported. She later said she deeply regretted the comments, saying "they do not reflect my heartfelt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance."