The White House Correspondents’ Association decided Sunday to give a front row seat in the White House briefing room to Fox News.
The WHCA moved the Associated Press into former Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas’ recently vacated center seat in the front row and Fox News was given the AP’s former front row seat.
“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.”
Each major cable television news network now has a seat in the front row of the White House briefing room. Fox News had been lobbying for the spot since before Thomas’ abrupt departure in June, vying for the position against Bloomberg News and National Public Radio.
“We are pleased with the decision of the White House Correspondents’ Association and look forward to working with our colleagues in the front row and the rest of the James S. Brady briefing room,” Bill Sammon, Fox News’ Vice President of News and Washington Managing Editor, said.
NPR was in the running for a front row seat but the WHCA moved it instead to the second row seat that Fox News will now be vacating. Bloomberg News was also in the running for the front row seat but will remain in its second row seat.
According to a WHCA release, the changes go into effect Monday morning.
Though NPR applied for a front row seat in a letter of intent on July 14, it wasn’t considered a likely candidate for the spot until two petitions popped up last week advocating for NPR’s placement there.
Left-wing organizations MoveOn.org and CREDO each circulated separate petitions to push the WHCA to place NPR into the coveted spot. The petitions ignored Bloomberg’s candidacy for a front row seat and claimed that Fox News is not a legitimate news organization.
NPR released a statement saying it had nothing to do with either of the petitions or organizations.
“We definitely congratulate Fox and AP and thank the White House Correspondents’ Association for moving us up to the second row,” NPR spokesperson Anna Christopher said.
After the WHCA announced the new seating arrangement, CREDO released a statement saying it “beat Fox News” by not causing enough of a stir for Fox to not get the front and center seat.
In its “victory” release, CREDO doesn’t even mention that Fox News was moved to the front row of the briefing room, just that Fox News didn’t get Helen Thomas’ seat. Originally, CREDO had been lobbying to keep Fox in the second row and to put NPR in the front.
CREDO’s Political Director Becky Bond didn’t respond to e-mails or phone calls for comment.
USA Today’s White House reporter and WHCA President David Jackson wouldn’t comment on the decision, but CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry, a WHCA board member, recommended Fox get a front row seat from early on.