It looks like the so-called White House mouth-piece will not have first row privileges in the new press room, according to the WHCA:
TO: White House Correspondents’ Association
RE: White House Briefing Room
DATE: March 16, 2007
The White House Correspondents’ Association met today to review plans for the renovated West Wing Briefing Room and the seating assignments. 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.
2007 White House Correspondents Association Board
Steve Scully – C-SPAN (President)
Ann Compton – ABC News (Vice President)
Jennifer Loven – Associated Press (Treasurer)
Peter Maer – CBS News (Secretary)
Steve Holland – Reuters
Doug Mills – The New York Times
Kenneth Walsh – US News & World Report
Ken Herman – Cox Newspapers
Mike Allen – The Politico