by Matthew L. Schafer
On Sunday the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) announced that the Associated Press would get Helen Thomas’ coveted center seat in the James S. Brady Briefing Room. Thomas resigned in June after remarks she made about Jews in Palestine. While not getting the seat, Fox News, one of three news organizations expressing interest in the seat, did get moved to the front row.
“It was a very difficult decision,” the WHCA said in a release. “The board received requests from Bloomberg and NPR in addition to Fox for relocation to the front row and felt all three made compelling cases. But the board ultimately was persuaded by Fox’s length of service and commitment to the White House television pool.”
According to the WHCA, the larger seating chart was modified in what was the third time in the last four years that such seating adjustments have been made. Now, the front row is comprised of Fox News, ABC, NBC, CNN, CBS, Reuters, and the Associated Press. NPR moved into the second row center seat, which had been occupied by FOX News.
CREDO Action, a progressive organization, emphatically urged the WHCA not to give the front and center seat to Fox News. In order to sway the WHCA, CREDO submitted over 300,000 petitions to the WHCA in opposition to the move. The petitions did not mince words.
“FOX News is a right-wing propaganda operation, not a legitimate news organization,” the petition read. “Award the seat vacated by Helen Thomas to NPR, which has provided public interest coverage of the presidency and the White House for almost four decades.”
In an email to supporters on Sunday, CREDO declared victory, despite the fact NPR did not receive the front row seat.
“While we’re disappointed that the seat did not go to NPR, we’re delighted the board found a way to avoid giving the coveted front row center seat to FOX,” CREDO Political Director Becky Bond wrote. “No doubt our pressure made a huge difference.”