Helen Thomas Regains Front Row Seat in WH Press Room

By: E&P Staff

For awhile it looked like Helen Thomas, dean of White House correspondents, was going to get booted from her customary front row seat when the renovated press room opens there. But the The White House Correspondents’ Association met Friday to review plans for the West Wing Briefing Room and re-considered the seat assignments.

An excerpt from a memo to members follows.

The new briefing room will consist of 49 seats: 7 rows and 7 seats per row. In the old briefing room, we had 8 rows and 6 seats per row. This new configuration required us to make several adjustments to the seating arrangement, which is a White House Correspondents’ Association responsibility.

As a board, we decided to move CNN to the first row. This decision was based on CNN’s 27 years of covering The White House, as well as the resources it brings to the in-town and travel pool, and its daily presence at the briefings. In addition, the board agreed to honor a previous commitment by our association to maintain Helen Thomas’ seat in the first row. As the dean of the White House press corps, Helen is an institution. First with United Press International and now as a White House columnist for Hearst newspapers, Helen has covered every president since John Kennedy.

Every news organization that had a seat in the old briefing room will have a seat in the new briefing room, and these seating assignments only affect the Brady Briefing Room. The White House, however, will continue to determine seating assignments for all presidential news conferences. We expect to move back to the West Wing this June. Look for additional updates on the briefing room project in the weeks ahead.

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