Here it is, the newly approved official 2015 White House briefing room seating chart!!
But, unless it’s a briefing room presidential press conference, in which case every rump will be in its official seat, don’t use this as a cheat sheet.
During the daily briefings, only the first two or three rows are filled with people in their proper places. Beyond that, it varies, especially as you get toward the back.
Even when I worked for a company that had a seat – alas, ICYMI, White House Dossier does not – I would try to move up to the second or third row, as I do today. The rule is, if you’re not in your seat, anyone else can have it, except for the first row, where bohemians and gypsies must never wander.
Of course, this being Washington, the seating arrangement in the briefing room is a vicious turf war, connoting status. Probably a quarter the organizations with seats never use them and couldn’t Google Map their way to the White House. Another quarter are rarely seen. But oh boy, just try and take their seats away or move them back a row . . .
Note this statement given to Politico by Jeff Mason of the White House Correspondents’ Association, the Reuters reporter who ran the latest seating assignment review, which resulted in a few minor changes:
The review took months to complete and was approved unanimously by the WHCA board after careful consultation with and input from all of the affected organizations. We’re confident that we’ve made gentle adjustments that give designated spots to the reporters who use them most.
My God. Talk about walking on eggshells. You’d think they were negotiating to strip CBS of its nuclear weapons.
One of the great battles over the years involved Fox News vs. CNN. For ages, the Fox seat was behind CNN’s. Then, uh oh, a little thing happened with the ratings, and Fox could not be denied. Now, as you can see, Fox’s seat is just slightly better than CNN’s. It even eclipses NBC. MSNBC is a few rows back only because the NBC correspondent does double duty on the sister network.
UPI used to have a seat front and center – long after it had lost its war with the Associated Press and no one subscribed anymore – out of deference to Helen Thomas. When she left UPI, it became the Helen Thomas seat. And when she wasn’t present, nobody would sit there, until the guy who took over for UPI started doing it, making everyone cringe. I thought it was pretty funny.