Former White House Correspondents President: Fox News Seating ‘A Travesty’

Should FOX News, which is obviously pro-Republican, have a front row seat in the White House press room? Of course.

Ed Chen, who served as White House Correspondents Association president from June 2009-June 2010, calls the decision to give Fox News a front row seat in the White House Briefing Room created by Helen Thomas’ forced retirement “a travesty.”

“The vacancy was created because of an ideological conflict,” he said, referring to Thomas’ anti-Israel comments that led to her resignation. “To fill the vacancy with another cloud of ideological conflict was most unfortunate and inappropriate.”

[…]”You had Helen go out on this conflict over politics and a question of fairness,” Chen said. “You fill the seat with someone who drags in all of this controversy.”

First, let’s acknowledge that Helen Thomas should have vacated that seat years ago.   She rightfully occupied it for decades, becoming dean of the press corps, when working for UPI at the time it was the world’s leading wire service.   UPI became a bit player more than two decades ago but unseating Thomas would have been unseemly.  But, once she left UPI and became a hack columnist, she should have been ousted.    Her seat was quite literally the only one that had an individual’s name on it; all the others had venerable press organizations engraved on the marker.

Second, while there’s not much pretense that Fox is non-ideological anymore, the fact of the matter is that they are far and away the most watched news network.  Of course they should have a front row seat in the room where the press represents the people in questioning the president.

Third, as a technical matter, Fox didn’t get Thomas’ seat; it went to the AP, which long ago supplanted UPI as America’s top news wire.   Fox shifted up to AP’s old seat and NPR, previously excluded from the room, got Fox’s old seat.   It was a brilliant game of musical chairs.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. RW Rogers says:

    Debates over the seating chart aboard the Titanic are always entertaining.

  2. mpw280 says:

    “Second, while there’s not much pretense that Fox is non-ideological anymore,”

    And the old hag wasn’t? Or for that matter the alphabet soup of news groups aren’t. You may not like fox but they are beating the hell out of every other news group out there and deserve to have front and center if they want it. The fact that the old hag was allowed in there was a waste of a seat for years and should have been rectified long ago, the same as fox having a subordinate seat to the failing news groups. mpw

  3. Fox may be ideological, but it’s White House Reporters have typically been pretty good. Brit Hume covered the beat for a bit, I believe. And Major Garrett has done a very good jod

  4. James Joyner says:

    It’s been awhile since I’ve watched but Jim Angle was solid as well.

  5. Wayne says:

    Re “while there’s not much pretense that Fox is non-ideological anymore”

    This is from someone who admits to not watching the channel.

    Are you still maintaining that the other channels\News organizations are non-ideological?

  6. wr says:

    Perhaps they should just give the seat to the Saudi Royal family, since they are Fox’s largest minority shareholder.

  7. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***This is from someone who admits to not watching the channel. ***lol, you should hear how he goes on and on about the Beck show he has never seen…..

    ***Perhaps they should just give the seat to the Saudi Royal family, since they are Fox’s largest minority shareholder.*** lol, maybe they should just government unionize the whole rest of the media……

    lol when I watch Fox news every day I just don’t see the wahhabi slant…

    Oh you meant rich brown people lol……….

  8. sam says:

    “You may not like fox but they are beating the hell out of every other news group out there and deserve to have front and center if they want it. ”

    Would it be uncharitable to suggest that this is because its audience doesn’t read?

  9. mpw280 says:

    Sam goes NASCAR again, all left turns all the time. Since Fox has more viewers than all the other channels, doesn’t that mean a whole lot of lefties are illiterate as well? Since sam probably watches as well, he would be an illiterate by admission too. mpw

  10. Grewgills says:

    mpw,
    You do realize the even as the most watched news channel Fox news viewership is still dwarfed by network news and accounts for a tiny fraction of American adults?

  11. sam says:

    ” Since Fox has more viewers than all the other channels, doesn’t that mean a whole lot of lefties are illiterate as well?”

    Stop sniveling. No it doesn’t, and no I don’t.

  12. Brummagem Joe says:

    Fox is not the most watched news. They are the most watched cable channel but the numbers are still piffling relative to the the three network channels. They have an audience based on a particular demographic. I’ve no doubt that if MSNBC finally bit the bullet and set themselves up as the Democratic Fox they’d attract a similar dedicated audience. Their problem is they can’t because they have a one of the three major network and can’t risk rocking that boat by becoming an all out partisan cable channel a la Fox.

  13. André Kenji says:

    The point is that keeping a news division is pretty expensive because you have to pay for correspondents and satellite transmission everywhere(BBC spends 550 millions per year doing that)  . In some cases you have to pay even private security. Roger Ailes solved that by simply paying people to argue on the TV. The Network news divisions aren´t such profitable, and they have to deal with 30 minutes broadcasts, not 24 hour broadcasts.
    Another problem is that there aren´t so much of news to fill that time. International channels does that because they talk a lot about what happens all around the world. And obviously, that would not sell to the American audience.

  14. Juneau: says:

    @ sam
    “Would it be uncharitable to suggest that this is because its audience doesn’t read?”
    Would it be uncharitable to suggest that you will soon be a quaint anachronism?  Cardigan sweaters with leather patches in the elbows, a nice brandy winter evenings, and a copy of Das Kapital gathering a light coat of dust on the shelf – it’s well-worn pages scarred by countless folds where cherished passages have been revisited and reflected upon.

  15. sam says:

    Tsk, tsk. You obviously missed the Madmen thread.