The Trump administration wants to move the press briefing room out of the West Wing.
Incoming Chief of Staff Reince Priebus swears it’s to increase accessibility and transparency.
But White House reporters just announced their plans to fight the move.
The potential move of the White House briefing room from its current traditional location — in the executive mansion to another location within the White House complex — is a topic of major consternation for White House reporters.
They fear the briefing room move is a step toward freezing them out and limiting their access to important people in the White House.
But incoming Press Secretary Sean Spicer assures the public the purpose of the move is to accommodate a larger number of reporters and increase accessibility to the new Trump administration.
According to Spicer, the Trump team is considering the move as a result of the “off the chart” demand from the press to cover the first weeks after Trump’s inauguration on January 20th.
The current briefing room, the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, has space for just 49 people.
And Spicer explains thousands of reporters have sought White House credentials to access the press briefing room.
So, the move makes sense to accommodate an unprecedented demand for access.
Reince Priebus also argues the purpose of the move is to make room for more reporters in the space.
Priebus said they can fit four times the number of people into the new briefing room location.
“Some of this is getting way out of whack,” he said to Fox News.
But the White House Correspondents’ Association fears the proposed move may be intended to limit their easy access to the Trump administration and protect high-ranking civilian officials.
Jeff Mason, President of the White House Correspondents’ Association, wrote in a statement on the subject of press access to the West Wing, “We object strenuously to any move that would shield the president and his advisers from the scrutiny of an on-site White House press corps.”
Fox News reported:
“The White House Correspondents’ Association is preparing for a fight.
“They see this not only as a potential assault on tradition but as a systematic effort to undermine their ability, as journalists, to cover the incoming administration.”
In another statement, Mason said, “The White House Correspondents’ Association has always advocated for increasing access and transparency for the benefit of all news outlets and the public.”
But Mason argues the current press briefing room is already open to all journalists who seek access now.
An issue which seems to be of even more concern to Mason is the White House press workspace, which is currently located quite near the Oval Office.
“I made clear that the WHCA would view it as unacceptable if the incoming administration sought to move White House reporters out of the press workspace behind the [current] press briefing room.”
“Access in the West Wing to senior administration officials, including the press secretary, is critical to transparency and to journalists’ ability to do their jobs,” Mason went on.
But, as Fox News reported:
“The Trump team argues that this is all about expanding accessibility to allow more journalists into the daily briefings.”
And Trump’s team has the authority to make the ultimate decision.
As reported by Fox News, Sean Spicer said:
“We’re trying to look at ways to increase the accessibility because there is such a huge demand and excitement to cover a Trump administration that we are looking at those options. There are some logistical hurdles to doing that and we are trying to walk through it, what are the options.”
Spicer says they are not looking at moving the workspace at this time.
The incoming Press Secretary went on, “Let’s try it for the first few weeks, maybe we see what the demand is, see what the upsides are. The idea that you can involve more people, be more transparent, and have more accessibility should be seen as a welcome change.”