Fox News Eyes Helen Thomas's Front Row Seat: Reports
Could Fox News get Helen Thomas's coveted front-row seat in the White House briefing room?
It's possible now that Thomas, 89, has retired in the wake of her controversial and offensive comments about Israel.
"No decisions have been made on the open seat," incoming White House Correspondents Association president Jackson told Poynter. "We have elections for three seats that are open [an at-large organization, magazine and TV seat]. I will recommend that the new board decide the issue, but I don't know what my colleagues will want to do."
Jackson, who takes over on July 16, said that the WHCA will meet Thursday to discuss the Thomas seat.
Speculation centers around Fox News — the only TV network without a front-row seat — and Bloomberg — the only wire service without a front-row seat.
Greg Sargent reports that Fox News and Bloomberg were "locked in a behind-the-scenes 'death match'" over who would inherit Thomas's seat when she retired even before her controversial Israel comments. Both are currently seated in the second row, and "had previously made it known to the White House Correspondents Association that they coveted the seat upon Thomas's retirement," according to Sargent.
The Daily Beast's Richard Wolffe recalls that in 2007, CNN beat out Fox News for a spot in the front row based on its "prior place in the pecking order," but says that "Fox's patience in 2007 may now be rewarded with Thomas' coveted chair."
Still, though the network has been patient, the Daily News reports that Fox News has been gunning for a front row seat for years:
Sources within the White House Correspondents' Association, which oversees the seating chart, told the Daily News that Fox, the nation's largest cable news outlet, has argued for years it belongs in the front row, where CNN, ABC and MSNBC (represented by NBC) already reside with the Associated Press and Reuters.
Andrew Sullivan suggests giving the seat to a blogger instead of a traditional reporter:
I don't see why the front row should belong just to reporters. Their total submission to the news cycle and making news renders much of their questioning a big old kabuki show. Why not allow bloggers in the front row? We'd sure make the awful, smug, useless Gibbs less comfortable.