AP Gets Helen Thomas’ White House Briefing Room Seat

Fox News moves up to front row; NPR to second row

The White House Correspondents Association has made its highly anticipated decision – at least in clubby D.C. media circles – regarding Helen Thomas’ coveted briefing room seat.

The Associated Press will get Thomas’ front-and-center slot, the association announced on Sunday.

Fox News, which had been the target of some progressive campaigns against its seating chart candidacy, will move to the front row, taking the spot vacated by the AP. (FNC had been in the second row.)

"It was a very difficult decision," the WHCA board said in a statement. "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. But the board ultimately was persuaded by Fox's length of service and commitment to the White House television pool."

The front row now includes the AP, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Reuters.

"We are pleased with the decision of the White House Correspondents’ Association and look forward to working with our colleagues in the front row and the rest of the James S. Brady briefing room,” Bill Sammon, VP and Washington managing editor of Fox News, said in a statement. (The shuffle means Fox News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett, who sat directly behind Thomas in the second row, won’t have to look at the back of anyone’s head anymore.)

NPR, which was considered a favorite by some for Thomas’ seat, will move to the second row — next to Bloomberg, where Fox News was.

The board made some other ceremonious shuffling, too, including the addition of a new seat for the foreign press pool and the ousting of U.S News & World Report from the seating chart.

Thomas, the oldest member of the White House press corps, abruptly announced her retirement in June after controversial comments she made about Israel were posted on YouTube.