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On air: Does it matter if journalists take sides?

Krupa Thakrar Padhy Krupa Thakrar Padhy | 13:18 UK time, Tuesday, 8 June 2010

thomasandobama.jpgHelen Thomas' views on the Middle East have never been a secret. After all, her job is to speak her mind. Or is it?

Known for her trailblazer attitude,  Thomas' latest comments telling Jews to 'get the hell out of Palestine' seem to have been a comment too far for many (here's the video).

The celebrated columnist and dean of the White House Press Corps has now announced she's retiring.

But if her job was to express her opinion,  what exactly did she do wrong? What do you expect from journalists - objectivity or opinion?

She's not only retired, she's also been dumped by her speaking agency. Roy Greenslade wonders how free freedom of speech is in America,

'It is one of those rare occasions in which one can see clearly how people in America who are willing to express anti-establishment opinions are demonised, marginalised and finally excluded from public debate.'

Paul Galuzska asks why anyone cares what the 89 year old said. American Thinker agrees.

But she's not without support. James Zogby  appreciates her courage to speak up,

'For years now Helen Thomas has been a challenging voice asking tough questions and refusing to accept evasions from White House spokespersons whose job it is to give as little information as possible. She never let go...She was carrying the torch of a free press when many of her colleagues were unable to acknowledge that there was one to carry. Respect is due this woman. We owe her service and courage more than eye rolls and scorn.'

Jo-Ann Armao feels that Thomas' 'challenging voice', often brought journalism into disrepute. No tears farewell here, 

'It is one thing to ask a hard-hitting question to elicit real information and an entirely separate matter to grandstand for attention. Thomas long ago crossed a line and she finally ended up paying the price. It's a sad end to her life's work, but even sadder is how the rest of the media were willing to go along for the ride.'

And this blogger sees nothing wrong with Thomas' remarks, as long as he can respond. 

Helen Thomas was an opinion columnist. Everyday, people try to "shame" opinion writers because they have an opinion. To restrict our ability to do so would be to impinge upon our own freedom of speech. I'm pretty much a free speech absolutist. I will defend to the death your right to use the N-word, and my right to (usually) condemn you for doing so. Thomas said something shameful-I reserve the right to shame her.

So should she have just kept her thoughts about Israel quiet? When does a journalist cross the line? 

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