The vote by the Society of Professional Journalists follows Wayne State University's decision to shelve the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity in the Media Award. And it comes amid pressure from Holocaust survivors to distance the group from the once-celebrated White House correspondent.
Thomas, 90, grew up in Detroit and retired as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers last year after telling an interviewer that Israelis should "get the hell out" of the Palestinian territories and go to Germany, Poland or the United States. She caused further controversy by telling a crowd in Dearborn in December that "Zionists" control Congress, Wall Street and Hollywood.
Thomas was the first recipient of the journalism society's award in 2000. She can keep the award, as can other recipients including former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw and Chuck Stone, founding president of the National Association of Black Journalists.
"SPJ will simply not give a lifetime achievement award (anymore,)" said Scott Leadingham, spokesman for the group