In the end, the Associated Press scooped the three news organizations vying for the front-row center seat long held by Helen Thomas, while Fox News won the contest to move up to the front of the room.
While Fox, Bloomberg and NPR submitted letters expressing interest in the seat in the in the James S. Brady Briefing Room that opened up when Thomas retired in June, the White House Correspondents Association voted Sunday to give it to the venerable wire, while Fox moved into AP’s former seat in the front row, and NPR moved into Fox’s second-row seat.
"It was a very difficult decision," the WHCA 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."
Fox's argument for the seat, laid out in a letter from its Washington Managing Editor Bill Sammon obtained by The Upshot, was that the WHCA had promised in 2007 that Fox would get the seat when Thomas retired. That promise came during a renovation of the briefing room, when the rows were expanded from six to seven seats and CNN and Fox initially seemed poised to compete for the new front-row seat that added.
"When CNN bid for the front row in 2007, Fox News could have challenged it and had a knock-down, drag-out fight,” CNN's Ed Henry told the Wall Street Journal. “But they did the gentlemanly thing and said CNN had more seniority."
Sammon added in his letter that all the networks and Thomas herself supported Fox's bid. (Continues here)