Thomas returns to the press's trenches

Monday, January 10, 2011; C02

Why, at age 90, and after a devastating departure from her last job, is Helen Thomas returning to the battlefield of punditry?

"It's my life, and I want to die with my boots on," the liberal firebrand told us. "There's never a day without news, and I want to be on top of it. I covered 10 presidents, and I don't want to stop."

We spoke to Thomas on Friday, a day after she emerged from seven months of unwilling retirement with a new column in the weekly Falls Church News-Press. While she initially agreed to speak only about her new gig, Thomas was the one to bring up the circumstances that led to her downfall - her videotaped comments that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine." She told us her words were "distorted": "I didn't tell the Zionists to get out of Israel, I told them to get out of Palestine, and to stop mistreating the Palestinians. It's very depraved and inhumane." She added: "I'm not anti-Semitic."

Since leaving her Hearst column and seat in the White House briefing room, she's been "reading newspapers, going out to dinner, eating, drinking, being merry."

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