Front Row and Center: The Helen Thomas Vacancy

Headline news today: “An End for Helen Thomas and the Helen Thomas Rules.” Wow. Millions are discussing the controversial comments that led to her retirement, but how many will think about the implications of the absence of a woman sitting in the front row, center seat, of the White House briefing room?

The White House Correspondents Association determines who sits where in that briefing room. As one blog post described, “One reason who sits where matters is that [White House Press Secretary Robert] Gibbs only occasionally farms out questions as deep as the fourth row, rarely beyond that, and only occasionally goes to the standing wings near the front.”

After scanning many pictures of that briefing room, I’d say men outnumber women by a good 3-1 margin if not more. What happens if a man winds up sitting in that vacant chair? Will it affect women’s issues? We know Thomas’ presence certainly did. What woman would you choose to sit in the front row of the White House briefing room? And why?

Blog cross posted on AAUW Dialog.