AP Gets Center Seat, Fox Front Row Seat, In WH Briefings

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The board of the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) has decided to move the Associated Press to the front-row center seat in the White House briefing room. It gets the seat that had been held by UPI's Helen Thomas, who retired after her remarks suggesting Jews get out of Palestine were roundly criticized.

Fox News Channel will move up from the second row to AP's front row seat, and NPR will move to Fox's second-row seat next to Bloomberg.

"It was a very difficult decision," said the association in a statement.

The board further agreed to move Fox News to the front row seat previously occupied by AP, and relocate NPR into the second-row seat previously held by Fox, next to Bloomberg News. "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."

MoveOn.org was circulating a petition over the weekend to try and get the White House Correspondents Association to give Helen Thomas' front row center seat at White House briefings to NPR. But just as important to the group is that it not go to Fox.

"They [Fox] simply don't deserve the best seat in the White House briefing room -- a seat held for years by journalist Helen Thomas until she retired recently," the group said in an e-mail solicitation Friday.

Fox did not get the seat, but it got the upgrade to the front row over Bloomberg and NPR bids. "The board ultimately was persuaded by Fox's length of service and commitment to the White House television pool," said the association.

WHCA board members are Carol Lee, Politico; Michael Scherer, Time magazine; Julie Mason, DC Examiner; Don Gonyea, NPR; and Ed Henry, CNN. Gonyea recused himself from the decision about seating. The changes are effective Aug. 2.

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