By The Hill Staff - 03/07/07 07:07 PM EST
Veteran journalist Helen Thomas is losing her front-row seat in the soon-to-be-revamped White House press briefing room — but maybe not for long.
Several White House hopefuls said they would make sure that Thomas regains her spot if they should be fortunate enough to move their stuff into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. come early 2009.
Katie Roberts, spokeswoman for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), said, “Helen Thomas is one of the most respected journalists in the business and has earned her place at the front row.”
She also sent pictures of Thomas conducting an interview of Richardson, adding, “Helen is fabulous.”
Alex Colvin, former Sen. Mike Gravel’s (D-Alaska) press secretary, said, “The senator considers Helen Thomas the dean of the White House, and he considers the move an infantile gesture by the Bush White House … He was outraged.”
Now wait a minute, senator. Technically, the White House Correspondents Association is in charge of the seating arrangement — as was pointed out by former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson’s (R) spokesman, Tony Jewell: “Thompson would leave it to the media to fulfill its traditional role of assigning seats.”
But hey, if you are ruler of the free world, some technicality is not going to get in your way, right?
Kent Snyder, Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) press secretary, said Paul believes “Thomas should get a special seat in the front row for always challenging the president — regardless of who the president is.”
Not all the campaigns weighed in on this important matter. The other candidates didn’t comment, preferring to dodge a question they hope to grapple with down the road.
Thomas, who has downplayed her impending move backward in the press room, could not be reached for comment.
Who’s interrupting? It certainly isn’t me
Earlier this year, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) jousted on air with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto over who was interrupting whom.
And then last week, Frank went toe to toe with former Rep. and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
Frank struck early: “You can’t have a coherent conversation when you’re interrupting every 10 seconds.”
This back-and-forth continued for a while until a frustrated Scarborough at one point said he was going to TiVo the show to see who got more air time.
Even Maher seemed exasperated by the exchange. “Don’t interrupt me!” he teasingly snapped at Frank later in the show. “You have that look of interruption.”
Frank defended himself: “I don’t. I was looking askance.”
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Following the “Scooter” Libby verdict this week, former ambassador Joe Wilson said he has “no idea” whether Hollywood will make a movie about the Valerie Plame tale, although surely it would love to.
Wilson did add, “I only ask that Jack Black be cast in a role other than that of Joe Wilson.”
Black is much younger and fatter than Wilson, but for all producers out there contemplating such a movie, we’re floating Michael Douglas.
Douglas is in Wilson’s age range, after all, and he’s got similar hair — plus, they’re both critics of the Bush administration.
While we’re at it, we’ll nominate Toni Collette of “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Muriel’s Wedding” for Plame.
But who should play Libby? Let us know at Dome@thehill.com and we’ll publish your recommendations next week.
Unhappy Easter bunny
Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) has taken a lot of flak from the liberal wing of her party for her stance on the Iraq war.
But she’s now confronted with a decision that could play a big role in her next election: whether the bunny that everyone talks about when the flowers bloom should be called “Easter” or “Spring.”
The town of Walnut Creek in Tauscher’s district is consumed by this controversy after making the switch from “Easter Bunny” to the non-Christian, more pagan and more politically correct “Spring Bunny.”
Tauscher now faces a dilemma. She fears a primary challenge, which might make it prudent to opt for “Spring.” But in a general election, “Easter” would certainly poll better.
Tauscher weighed in wittily yesterday, showing she dislikes the change to Spring Bunny by saying, “I’m not hoppy about it.”
— Heidi Bruggink and Betsy Rothstein contributed to this page.