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Pioneering journalist Helen Thomas dies at 92

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Within days, she retired from her job at Hearst.

Nicholas F. Benton, the owner and editor of the Falls Church News-Press, approached her about writing again. Benton, who had published Thomas’ column for years when she was syndicated, said Thomas was initially dubious about continuing to write for the free weekly paper, which at the time had a circulation around 25,000.

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Things to know about Helen Thomas

She spoke to Rowland Hall in Salt Lake City in 2006. Read the article from the Intermountain Catholic: http://tinyurl.com/lfst72a

A first lady once scooped Thomas on a story — her engagement. Learn five facts about the trailblazing correspondent: http://ow.ly/n9F9U

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"She said, ‘You don’t want me. I’m poison," he said in a telephone interview Saturday.

He responded that he could handle any criticism, and her column started running in January 2011. She continued to write about national issues, from Social Security to the State of the Union address and the low capital gains tax, which she blamed for creating "a bigger divide between the haves and the have-nots, leaving not much of a middle class in America."

Benton said some of his advertisers got threatening calls, but he said he received more positive letters than negative ones by "quite a wide margin." And Benton said she continued to be "sharp as a tack," sometimes asking if she could get her column in after deadline because she wanted to monitor some late-breaking development. She wrote for the paper for a year, until her health prevented her from continuing.

"She was just the kind of person who really did want to fight to the finish," he said of her return to writing.


Associated Press writer Jessica Gresko contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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