What is a HuffPo Blogger Doing in the Vaunted 'Helen Thomas Seat'?
UPDATE: HuffPo's Jason Linkins offers explanation (see bottom)
Maybe this is the way former Hearst Newspapers columnist and so-called dean of the White House Press Corps Helen Thomas would have wanted it.
Although Thomas' old seat in the White House press briefing room hasn't officially been designated for a particular outlet, and this might be wishful thinking on the part of the Huffington Post's Sam Stein, the White House correspondent for website, took the seat for the July 27 briefing with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Stein's questions from the front row dealt with the possibility of President Barack Obama making recess appointment, in dealing with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and what he deemed the "lethargic pace" of judicial confirmations. Stein then followed up with four additional questions for his piece posted on the Huffington Post later that afternoon.
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The future of Thomas' former seat is still in question, with Fox News Channel, NPR and Bloomberg vying for the spot. It became part of the so-called "JournoList" controversy after it was revealed Michael Scherer of Time magazine, who recently won a seat on the board of directors of the White House Correspondents' Association, but was part of the anti-Fox News thread on the JournoList listserv as Politics Daily's Matt Lewis pointed out.
It's not clear if the Huffington Post is lobbying for a more prominent spot in the briefing room nor why Stein couldn't have asked from another spot in the briefing room.
UPDATE: According Jason Linkins, a reporter for The Huffington Post, it was Stein's turn in the rotation of pool reporters occupying the old Helen Thomas seat. He cited a June 8 Michael Calederone story reporting that the White House Correspondents' Association "may continue giving the seat to that day's rotating pool reporter."
If this is indeed the case, then hopefully we'll see a reporter for an outlet that isn't as favorable toward the Obama administration occupying the seat between now and when the Correspondents' Association makes its decision.