Helen Thomas, the 89-year old dean of the White House press corps, retired last month after creating an uproar with remarks disparaging Israel. Almost immediately, powerful news organizations began angling to take over her coveted front-row seat in the briefing room. Here's who's in the running, and why each thinks it should get Thomas' iconic perch: (Watch Jon Stewart poke fun at the contenders)
In a letter to the White House Correspondents Association, which determines seating in the briefing room, Fox News Washington Managing Editor Bill Sammon said the seat has already been promised to Fox. The cable news channel was passed over for the seat before, when Thomas was briefly moved out of the seat during the Bush administration, but Fox was assured it would get the spot when Thomas finally retired. "All five TV networks — ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and FNC — now support this move," Sammon said. "Even Helen herself is on record saying the seat should go to Fox."
Bloomberg Executive Editor Al Hunt, in a letter responding to Fox's Sammon, pointed out that "Bloomberg is the fastest-growing news organization in the world," with 2,300 journalists across 146 bureaus. In Washington, D.C., Hunt said, "no news organization is more committed to Washington or White House reporting" — ergo, the front-row seat should go to Bloomberg.
In the letter obtained by Yahoo! News' The Upshot blog, NPR — don't call it National Public Radio! — managing editor David Sweeney, argues that his organization should get the spot based on its "audience size, national and international reach, presence at the daily briefings, [and] regular service in the radio-pool rotation and on White House travel both domestic and foreign." And in what sounds like a counterpunch to Fox's claim that its time has come, he added that NPR has had a full-time White House correspondent since the 1970s (when neither Fox News nor Bloomberg News existed).