The White House briefing room is a small but highly competitive space: not many journalists can fit in, and the status of being closest to the front is highly prized. So when veteran Helen Thomas resigned earlier this year, the scramble for her front row centre seat began. The competition was given a little more spice as one of those wanting Thomas’ former seat was Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).
Now the decision has been made: Thomas’ seat has gone to Bloomberg, but they were already on the front row. The former Bloomberg seat has gone to Fox. Given the less than fair and balanced nature of Fox’ coverage of anything the Obama administration does (last week, Daily Show host Jon Stewart told Fox that “nothing the President does will make you ****ing happy”), some might be concerned. But I am not one of them.
There’s one given about being on the front row in the Briefing Room, and that is that anyone there has no place to hide. Any attempts at slanted or partisan questioning are likely to be picked up in short order, with the rest of the press corps ready to laugh the most ridiculous ones down. Fox’ White House man Major Garrett will have to keep his questions straight down the line if he wants to maintain both credibility and seat.
And as for the suggestions from Fox “star” Bill O’Reilly that he might appear in the Briefing Room on occasion, forget it (ditto Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity). This could prove a double edged sword for Rupe’s stateside troops.