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Helen Thomas resigns as Moonies buy UPI

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Breaking News White House press corps Dean and permanent fixture Helen Thomas resigned her post with the United Press International (UPI) wire service, for which she worked for 57 years, on news that a Unification Church affiliate - which also owns the transparently Right-Wing Washington Times newspaper - has bought UPI.

In the past, UPI has employed such paragons of journalistic integrity as Walter Cronkite, Howard K Smith, David Brinkley and Eric Sevareid.

Moonie front company News World Communications, established by Unification Church head-lunatic Sun Myung Moon, "plans to maintain UPI as an independent news-gathering operation, while upgrading its capacity with new technologies and distribution practices," UPI flacks dutifully claimed.

The 79-year-old Thomas, who has covered eight US presidents in forty years and earned a reputation for throwing the hardest of hardball questions during most White House press conferences, would rather not test the assertion, apparently. She announced her resignation Tuesday.

Her seat in the White House press room was unoccupied Tuesday as White House flack Joe Lockhart ran through the daily press briefing.

"Speaking for myself, this room will not be the same without Helen sitting in the UPI chair," Lockhart noted.

The financially-ailing wire service has suffered much since its halcyon days in the 50s and 60s, changing hands repeatedly in the past two decades. In 1982 the Scripps Howard newspaper chain paid two Tennessee entrepreneurs $5 million to take it off their hands.

The two inexperienced investors eventually filed for bankruptcy. UPI then changed hands three more times, from a Mexican publisher, to a California venture capitalist, and finally, in 1992, to a group of Saudi businessmen.

Dean Thomas, arguably, single-handedly spared UPI the ignominious end it so doggedly sought in the hands of rank amateurs, and sustained its credibility as a respectable news source.

The Register's Washington Bureau deeply regrets the loss. ®

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