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Helen Thomas Biography

This week, David Brancaccio talks to journalist Helen Thomas about her experience covering administrations past and present, and why asking Presidents tough questions is central to our democracy.

Helen Thomas
Helen Thomas began her career as a copy girl on the old WASHINGTON DAILY NEWS, joining UPI in 1943 as a radio writer and filing the Washington City news wire designed as a tip service for news bureaus and government offices in the nation's capital. She later covered the Justice Department, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, now Health and Human Services and a score of smaller agencies. She began covering Kennedy in the 1960 campaign and was permanently assigned to the White House in 1961. She resigned from UPI in May 2000 and is now a columnist for Hearst Newspapers.

A graduate of Wayne State University, she has received 30 honorary degrees, including honors from Wayne, Brown University, Skidmore College, Michigan State University, George Washington University, Ohio University, Missouri School of Journalism, St. Bonaventure University, the University of Detroit and Wittenberg College.

Her awards include the National Press Club's 4th Estate Award; the Columbia University Journalism Award, the International Media Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, the Missouri School of Journalism Award, the Peter Zenger Award, the Hearst Newspapers' Bob Considine Award; the Society of Professional Journalists first life-time award and elected to its Hall of Fame, the Allen Neuharth award, the William Allen White Journalism Award, the Wayne University "Spirit of Diversity" award and the Ellis Island American Legend Medal, among others.

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