Meet the Press   |  July 21, 2013

David pays homage to journalist Helen Thomas

NBC's David Gregory reflects on memories of pioneering female journalist Helen Thomas.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> press minute," as we remember a pier in in our business, legendary journalist helen thomas who passed away yesterday. in 1960 she became the first female reporter to cover the white house full time and quickly became known for keeping presidents and their administrations on their toes.

>> helen .

>> who was to blame? where did the buck stop?

>> reporter: she made her mark from the very first time she was on "meet the press" back in 1976 with a pointed question that had a top adviser to president gerald ford 's re- election campaign , defending the president's image.

>> you have said that president ford has an image portrayal problem. what is --

>> i have?

>> you said that at your briefing at the white house . or that there is some question about the image that's being portrayed to the president.

>> well, i said that i didn't think that he was being accurately portrayed. i think a great to-do was made, for example, of tripping going down a set of stairs. and this seems to have triggered a whole lot of little phrases that i don't think accurately portray him.

>> reporter: and in her last appearance here new year's weekend, 1993 , with a nod toward her tenure in the white house press corps , she made it quite clear there would be no letting up on president george h.w. bush even though he had only three weeks left in office.

>> joining us now is helen thomas , white house correspondent for upi and someone who has covered every president since john f. kennedy , is that fair?

>> right.

>> president bush , post- election day funk, seems to be hitting his stride again. helen , you've watched him a long time. what do you think?

>> i think he is going out of office with all flags flying. certainly his policy, and he's had some big successes. but on the other hand, he'll come back tonight and on monday we're going to ask him about the special prosecutor .

>> happy new year, helen .

>> tough all the way through. by the time i was in the white house covering president bush , she became a columnist, more opiniona opinionated, courted controversy as well. in a statement yesterday, president obama said, in part, that it wasn't just helen 's long tenure as a journalist that made her the dean of the white house press corps but rather her, quote, fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account. amen. helen thomas was 92 years old.