“Helen Thomas will be remembered for her courage to ask tough questions to Presidents and political officials,” the statement read.
“A staunch advocate for the rights of Palestinians, Thomas expressed an unrelenting commitment to advancing the Palestinian quest for justice and statehood. She was a true friend to the Palestinian people.”
From her front row seat in the White House press room, Thomas was a formidable, sharp-tongued inquisitor of every US president she covered.
She was such a fixture, she had the unique privilege of a front row seat with her own name on it.
Thomas’ passing triggered a torrent of tributes, including one from Obama.
“Helen was a true pioneer, opening doors and breaking down barriers for generations of women in journalism,” he said in a statement.
“What made Helen the ‘Dean of the White House Press Corps’ was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account.”
Thomas began covering the White House for United Press International in the early 1960s, one of only a few women in a male-dominated Washington press corps.
The daughter of Lebanese immigrants, she had a strong interest in the Middle East and was a fierce defender of Palestinian rights.
“The General Delegation of the PLO to the United States joins the rest of the Palestinian community all over the world in offering its condolences to the family and friends of Helen Thomas, with whom we share a great loss today,” the PLO statement said.