It doesn’t matter where the press quarters are.
This month, Esquire reported that the new administration was looking for ways to evict the press from its West Wing offices. Fox News commentator Sean Hannity applauded, suggesting that it is “time to just throw them all out and start over.” Various administration officials said they would actually be doing the press a favor, freeing them of their cramped quarters and noting that they still would be on the 18-acre White House campus.
This sounds reassuring only if you don’t understand the importance of proximity to the White House press offices and the restrictions already slapped on correspondents. While they could report throughout the White House campus before the Reagan administration, today they can reach only the press offices. And tight space is never a lasting concern. These are the early days of a new presidency, but soon the novelty will wear off — it always does — and the financial realities of covering the White House will set in for news organizations. Where today you see reporters crammed in for the daily briefing, tomorrow you will see empty seats. And those who remain will write better, more accurate, more comprehensive stories in part because of the access they retain.