A Reminder to the White House About Helen Thomas’ Press Room Seat

Two months ago, after Helen Thomas was unceremoniously kicked out of the White House press corps for her off-the-job statements about Palestine, the talk started about who was going to get her front row real estate for the daily press briefings.  The competition apparently has came down to a match between NPR and FOX News, and it looks like FIX FOX has won. I just wanted to remind Robert Gibbs and the others that I gave them another choice that would have satisfied a key constituency.  Maybe I just need to be a little more firm for the next seat that opens up!  Here’s the post I penned in hopes that the partisan news network wouldn’t get such an honor.

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There’s been a lot of speculation about who’s going to get the prime real estate in the White House press room that’s been left vacant by Helen Thomas. CNN’s Ed Henry thinks it should go to FOX News. Others say Bloomberg News wants it. Some have suggested it go to Ed Henry himself.

I’d like to think that our press corps has more important things to think about than where they get to sit at the daily White House press briefing. Because, really, do questions get better answers from the Press Secretary depending on where the reporter is sitting in the room? I have to agree with Jon Stewart (as I often do!) — things have been going downhill over the years with the White House press corps and the latest skirmish over who takes the seat of the person who’s in permanent journalistic time out is a bit juvenile.

As someone who cut her journalistic teeth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, after learning about journalism at the alter of Woodward & Bernstein, I say it’s time to put some people back in who will ask the hard questions.

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I like to ask the hard questions — like when I had the opportunity to be on a conference call for women bloggers with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week. The topic was ostensibly to chat about his recent Nevada appearance with the First Lady and exercise, but I wanted to ask him about the financial regulation bill and how he reacted to the criticism about it not being tough enough to protect families finances. (I know we’re moms, but we can multi-task on issues, just like we do with our family’s schedules.)

So as the reporters from the “big” news outlets are jockeying for position, I’ve come up with my top ten reasons why I should get Helen Thomas’ seat in the White House press room — though, really, I’d take any seat because I can ask questions from anywhere in the room. If Robert Gibbs is paying attention (and maybe I can get some support from Jon Stewart, as well) here are ten excellent reasons I should get a shot on behalf of the women of the blogosphere to have some face time with the other journalists at the White House:

10. I’m not 89. Sure, by mentioning my love of “Woodstein” I’ve dated myself a bit, but I’m a lot younger than Helen Thomas, so hopefully no one would question the legitimacy of my comments because of my age.

9. I’ve already sat in Helen Thomas’ seat. I was lucky to get a private White House tour about 15 years ago, including a visit to the White House press room. I made sure someone took a picture of me in Thomas’ seat, so I know that it fits!

8. Many of my family members are Jewish , so if the White House is worried about what I’d say if asked a question about Israel, I think I’d be a little more diplomatic in how I phrased my personal opinions, even though I really think that should be none of their business.

7. I’m better looking than Ed Henry.

6. I have over 25 years of experience asking the hard questions, both as a reporter and as an attorney, so I’ll make sure to ask the important political questions. I don’t care about whether the President smokes or what’s on his iPod, though I might have to see if I can get the lowdown on where Michelle shops for cute shoes!

5. I already have more journalism experience from my “old school” era than most of the people sitting in that press room now, so I won’t let access to the power brokers color the questions I ask.

4. After years of taking depositions, I know how to ask the follow-up questions that so many White House journalists seem to ignore.

3. I promise I’ll retire before I’m 89 and let someone else have a chance at that seat. I have serious plans that involve a beach, a cabana boy & fruity drinks with little paper umbrellas.

2. I’ve seen the Oval Office and eaten the special Presidential M&Ms. So I’m over the starry-eyed aspect of being in the White House.

1. Women and mothers who blog about politics are the next revolution in political coverage. I’ll share that seat with other political moms who want to keep the seat warm with questions from all sides of politics. We’ll get the real information, because everyone always answers a mom’s questions sooner or later!

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3 Responses to “A Reminder to the White House About Helen Thomas’ Press Room Seat”

  1. Debbie Owensby Moore Says:

    How can the White House justify giving the seat to Fox after they stated that the network wasn’t a “real” news channel? I’m disgusted.

  2. Just Margaret Says:

    Ugh. I wonder how that decision was made…really made. I still maintain that you would be a fine choice for Helen’s chair, Joanne. We’d be blessed having your perspective.

  3. Gordon Philpott Says:

    “As someone who cut her journalistic teeth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, after learning about journalism at the alter of Woodward & Bernstein, I say” Seriously? The alter? Sink your teeth into a dictionary. :-)

    Then again, I can’t tell if you are being coy and smacking the White House Press Corps by portraying the term “blogosphere” against “other journalists at the White House” as if the two are synonymous. Heaven help us if you are Right.


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