Dubbed as the griller of US Presidents, and the bulldog in the White House, Helen Thomas, a pioneer in women journalism, was born in Winchester, Kentucky (USA) to Lebanese immigrants from Tripoli, North Lebanon.
She was known for her strong outspoken opinions and for “her persistence to the point of badgering” to get answers from the White House.
Thomas joined then United Press International (UPI) in 1943 and reported on women’s topics for their radio wire service.
Later in the decade, and in the early fifties, she wrote the U.P.I’s column Names in the News, for which she interviewed numerous Washington celebrities.
For 12 years, Thomas had to be at work at 5:30 a.m. to write radio news for U.P.I.
She later had several beats around the federal government, including the Department of Justice, the F.B.I., the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and the Capitol Hill, before she began covering President-elect John F. Kennedy in 1960.
In January 1961, Thomas entered the White House as a member of the U.P.I. reporting team headed by the late Merriman Smith and was there until May 2000.