February 13, 2003
Covering every president from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, venerable journalist Helen Thomas has had unprecedented access to some of the most powerful men in American history, as well as a ringside seat to decades worth of landmark events worldwide. She served for 57 years as a correspondent for United Press International and White House bureau chief.
At Hobart and William Smith, Thomas will share her unique perspective as the first speaker in this semester's President's Forum series, the theme of which is International Relations and Global Service.
Thomas' credentials are impressive. Thomas was the only print journalist to travel with Richard Nixon on his historic trip to China in 1972, and has traveled extensively with presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush. She also has covered every presidential economic summit.
Perhaps best known for asking the first question at presidential press conferences and closing every one with "Thank you, Mr. President," Thomas also is the author of two books, "Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President" and "Front Row at the White House."
Currently, Thomas is a Hearst newspaper columnist. In recent columns, such as "Bush acting as imperial president," Thomas has attacked the Bush administration's apparent willingness to go to war and lack of regard for public opinion. "President Bush has found that in many ways he can govern by executive order. In foreign affairs he has the nerve to tell other people that they should get rid of their current leaders."
Thomas was born in Winchester, Ky. She was raised in Detroit, Mich., where she attended public schools and later graduated from Wayne State University. Upon leaving college, she began her career serving as a copy girl on the old, now defunct Washington Daily News.