President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus on Thursday hinted at major overhaul in the White House press briefing room and other traditions involved with the media outlets covering the US president round the clock. “I think that it’s important that we look at all of those traditions that are great, but quite frankly, as you know, don’t really make news and they’re just sort of mundane, boring episodes,” Priebus told radio host Hugh Hewitt.
“I think it’s time to revisit a lot of these things that have been done in the White House, and I can assure you that change is going to happen, even on things that might seem boring like this topic, but also change as far as how we’re going to approach tax reform, the American worker, how we protect them and business all at the same time why skyrocketing our economy,” Priebus said.
He said the presidential transition team is currently in talks with the White House on how to change things including the press seats in the White House briefing room. At his daily news conference, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the White House has no control over the seating arrangement.
“I believe it (allotment of seats in the press briefing room) certainly predates President Obama’s presence in the White House,” he said.
“The White House Press Corps has worked among yourselves to organise the seating arrangements in this room, and I certainly would recommend to the incoming administration that they collect and familiarize themselves with some basic facts as they consider what sort of policies to implement moving forward,” Earnest said.
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) president Jeff Mason expressed concern over any such potential move.
“The WHCA notes with concern the comments President-elect Donald Trump’s chief of staff-designate Reince Priebus made on today’s Hugh Hewitt program,” he said in a statement.
“There was a notable factual inaccuracy in Priebus’s remarks: News organisations have had assigned seats in the briefing room since those seats were installed in 1981. That was not an Obama-era innovation as Priebus suggested,” he said.
“The WHCA assumed responsibility for assigning the seats in the briefing room over the last two decades at the request of both Republican and Democratic administrations, who were mindful of the potential appearance of playing favorites if they assigned the seats themselves,” he said.
“The WHCA looks forward to meeting with the incoming administration to address questions and concerns on both sides about exactly this sort of issue,” Mason added.