Pioneering female White House correspondent Helen Thomas dies at 92

Obama praised her for tough interviews

WASHINGTON - Helen Thomas, a pioneer for women in journalism and an irrepressible White House correspondent, has died. She was 92.

President Barack Obama called Thomas "a true pioneer" who broke down barriers "for generations of women in journalism."
 
Obama said Thomas "never failed to keep presidents -- myself included -- on their toes."

He praised her for her "fierce belief" that democracy works best when "we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account."

A friend, Muriel Dobbin, said Thomas died at her apartment in Washington on Saturday morning. Dobbin said Thomas has been ill for a long time, had been in and out of the hospital, and had come home Thursday.

Thomas made her name as a bulldog for United Press International in the great wire-service rivalries of old. She used her seat in the front row of history to grill 10 presidents -- often to their discomfort -- and was not shy about sharing her opinions.

She was persistent to the point of badgering; one White House press secretary described her questioning as "torture" -- and he was one of her fans.

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