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Battles brews over who will get Helen Thomas's White House seat; Bloomberg and Fox trade letters

Helen Thomas in 2006. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Who'll take Helen Thomas's front-row seat in the White House briefing room? The lobbying is in full swing, with Fox News and Bloomberg News trading passive-aggressive gibes. In a letter last week to the White House Correspondents' Association board, Fox's Bill Sammon wrote that his network was promised in 2007 it would get the spot when Thomas retired, having come in second to CNN in the seat-jockeying that occurred when the front row was widened. He called Bloomberg "a financial niche news outlet, not a general interest news organization like Fox." Oooh! In a letter sent Wednesday, Bloomberg's Al Hunt and Michael Tackett bristle at the description ("sadly out of date") and warn the board against "awarding a seat because of earlier sentiments." Oh, and "Bloomberg started covering the White House full time before Fox News existed."

The survey below is strictly for fun, okay? Sorry, you don't get a say in the actual outcome.

By The Reliable Source  |  June 17, 2010; 1:03 AM ET
Categories:  44: Obama's Washington , Politics  
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Who cares

Posted by: agarnett1000 | June 17, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

With the Chicago style politics now in Washington...they can probably pull a bid for $80,000.

Posted by: freeparking | June 17, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: saidzhofioni | June 17, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Are we sure someone didn't set out to get Helen Thomas' seat?

Posted by: SarahBB | June 17, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Let's hope it some one who is unbiased, unlike Helen Thomas.

Posted by: thelaw1 | June 17, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

But Fox News is not actually a "news" operation. Why should it get the seat?

Posted by: rjackson1 | June 17, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Here seems to be a cover letter in application for the job. I wonder what his resume looks like...

"If they go from Shebaa, we won't stop fighting them. ... Our goal is to liberate the 1948 borders of Palestine, ... The Jews who survive this war of liberation can go back to Germany or wherever they came from. However, that the Jews who lived in Palestine before 1948 will be 'allowed to live as a minority and they will be cared for by the Muslim majority.'”
—Hezbollah's spokesperson Hassan Ezzedin, about an Israeli withdrawal from Shebaa Farms

Posted by: daweeni | June 17, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

How 'bout a programable robot, batteries included? Ah, but who would program it with the silly questions which never get answered.

Posted by: elwoll | June 17, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

FoxNews is not news - it's a Republican Attack machine that exists to separate and destroy America.

Posted by: question-guy | June 17, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

FoxNews is not news - it's a Republican Attack machine that exists to separate and destroy America.

Posted by: question-guy | June 17, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

considering the value of the white house press corpse, how about cardboard cutouts.

Posted by: mycomment | June 17, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I nominate Mark Knoller of CBS Radio, the longest- and hardest-working guy on the White House beat.

Posted by: mattintx | June 17, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

CNN-NEWS is Not News - it's a democratic attack machine that exists to separate and destroy America. question-guy is an idiot.

Posted by: redsky28 | June 17, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Fox in the front row? This is a network that broadcasts Glenn Beck's regular veiled calls for armed insurrection. This is a network whose core mission is the dissemination of lies and propaganda.

Helen Thomas retired (deservedly so) because her extreme bias was publicly exposed.Fox broadcasts extreme bias every day. Just having them in the White House briefings helps them prop up an illusion of legitimacy -- putting them on the front row would make them appear even more legitimate, which is just what Ailes and Murdoch want.

Yes, Fox has a constitutional right to broadcast lies. But why should a Democratically elected government help them appear to be a legitimate news organization? Lies are the enemy of democracy. Fox is the enemy of democracy.

Posted by: tboyer33 | June 17, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

And the winner of Helen Thomas's seat is:


Posted by: foxblues | June 17, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

You may consider Helen, and her seat, as a piece of history Leave it with a plaque "Helen Thomas" (and not put in the Smithsonian), have only women reporters assigned the seat and always, always, have the person seated there get the first question.

Posted by: sitspin | June 17, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: mralexva | June 17, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Tear out the seat and send it to Ms. Thomas. Who would want to sit in that tainted symbol of a worn out biased "reporter"? In place of that seat put a plaque that reads: No room for hate.

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 17, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: mralexva | June 17, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

If Fox doesnt' get it it will be an openhanded slap in their face. I would go a totally different route and give it to some online source like Slate.

Posted by: AndyR3 | June 17, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Who cares; the questions are typically inane and dated and in the case of whomever Fox News sits in whatever chair and row, are designed for two purposes: First to reinforce a pre-determined thematic approach to the news for the day determined by Roger Ailes and second, to place a Democrat Administration in the worst possible light and a Republican Administration in the best possible light.
Who sits where in this kabuki dance matters not.

Posted by: army164 | June 17, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Faux is a "news" outlet? No it isn't, it's a propaganda arm of the right wing, and nothing more. They shouldn't even be allowed at the WH press conferences, or at least back with the opinion-peddling bloggers if they must be there. They have falsified too many stories to at this point be taken seriously as an objective news medium.

Posted by: B2O2 | June 17, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I recommend the great and wise Bibi, Prime Minister of Israel to take Helen Thomas' seat at the White House. Bibi would always be honest and above any compromise. However, since truth, yes even news truth is dependent on point of view -- there may be issues from time to time.

Posted by: cticocroft | June 17, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Helen Thomas ought to have her seat back.

Posted by: lindalovejones | June 17, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

how about a cardboard cutout of Jeff Gannon?

Posted by: bikobiko | June 17, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

the seat should go to one of the following:

any average European-American who wears their klan suit instead of the more expensive 2 and 3 piece ones...

any African-American woman who straightens her hair - conceeding that European-American style hair is superior...

any Jewish person - regardless of citizenship...

any Minority-American willing to carry a burning cross or star of david...

PLEASE DON'T LET ANYONE FROM A RESERVATION or FORMERLY FROM AN INTERNMENT CAMP HAVE THE SEAT... white supremacist like to say, 'we only want people who are gonna show thier love...'

Posted by: stephendavid2002 | June 17, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Bloomberg or Fake News????????

Gee, why can not we have an American, or America FIRST, news outlet in that chair?????

Posted by: usnr02 | June 17, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Once upon a time, when President Nixon tried to banish reporters to the Executive Office Building, we objected. In a spirit of compromise, now missing in our nation's capital, he put a floor over the indoor pool and we were happy. The room was furnished like the outer office of an insurance company. At briefings, we all stood, arranging ourselves as we would, not sitting in cramped little rows like students awaiting a lecture. We did not find our self respect or identities in our placements. We especially respected Helen Thomas, even suspecting that her blunt questioning of mideast policies grew in part from her Lebanese bloodline. She grew older and if her energies waned her commitment to honesty did not. Then one day, her antipathy toward the State of Israel, an emotion shared by many among American Jewry, veered to a comment on Israelis themselves. Some news organizations recoiled in skirt-cleaning horror. Writers who could never match her resume became critics. In high dudgeon, even the limp correspondents association waxed insipidly philosophical. And now, it has come to this: Big names in Beltway journalism are fighting over Helen's chair. For shame.

Posted by: sagamore1 | June 17, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

How about the most obsure news organization with the greatest seniority?

Posted by: moonoverva | June 17, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Ah, I see the phrase Chicago Style Politics is already here. Looks like the Lemmings have picked up the newest thought wave transmissions from the foxy lads.

Posted by: rbe1 | June 17, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

The only way FOX gets front row is if they change and start being honest, and they should start being honest by changing their name to reflect what they truely are.......FOX NOISE.

Posted by: Ireland2 | June 17, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Terranews from Italy! we need that spot!

Posted by: emanuelebompan | June 17, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Gee, now that stephendavid2002 has invaded the comment string -- Tea Time, anyone?
The voice of America's plague.
Actually, considering the harsh rhetoric with which Helen Thomas abused and insulted the Jewish nation, strict justice would dictate that her seat be offered to Ha'aretz or The Jerusalem Post.
But of course that will not happen.
Who is the senior reporter in the White House press corps?
Male or female, it should go to that person.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | June 17, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I think Faux Gnus should only get the seat if their news actor is brought in like Hannibal Lecter in a straight jacket, mask and on a gurney... or if the chair is electrified.

Posted by: John648 | June 17, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Comedy Central, of course, where more Americans get their news.

Posted by: RossPhx | June 17, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

NPR should get the seat.

Posted by: GaelEZ | June 17, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter who get Helens's seat. There will always only be one Helen Thomas. I suggest leaving her seat empty as a tribute to her great contributions to journalism as it "use to be"...

Posted by: demtse | June 17, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Put a middle-of-the-road blog there.

Posted by: HillRat | June 17, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

The Daily Show

Posted by: realrichard1 | June 17, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

If Helen Thomas has really been permanently banished by those noble defenders of the First Amendment and isn't coming back, then her chair should remain empty, along with a pair of her shoes.

Posted by: ejs2 | June 17, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The Onion

Posted by: jato11 | June 17, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Based on audience alone, Fox should get it, as they kick the pants off of the other networks.

And give me a break on the "faux news" and "Fox noise" sentiments. CNN and NBC have their opinion journalists as well. Just because Fox includes its opinion content under the same umbrella as its news content shouldn't discredit it.

Posted by: RambleOn | June 17, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope it some one who is unbiased, unlike Helen Thomas.

Posted by: thelaw1 | June 17, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse


That leaves FOX out.

Posted by: wdrudman | June 17, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Ana Marie Cox

Posted by: dadada | June 17, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

NPR should get the seat.

Posted by: kschnorrenberg | June 17, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting that there's so much of this "Faux News" and "Fox Noise' blather in the comments on this story and others here at WaPo. It happens regularly, yet polls show such sentiment is clearly a minority view in this country. I think that's why it is often expressed in such a vitriolic way; when someone thinks they aren't being heard they get nasty.

Fox does have plenty of conservative commentators; they even have some liberal ones. Their news people play it straight. Given their audience and their impact as a news organization, Fox deserves the seat. (Who even watches Bloomberg?) Plus, Fox is one of the few news organizations that is holding Obama's feet to the fire, as a good journalism outfit should.

Posted by: dakotadoug83 | June 17, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Definitely to Comedy Central!

Posted by: lydandy | June 18, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

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