Press Prima Donnas

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jul 31, 2006 7:42 AM

Here's a Newsweek story on the refurbishing of the press briefing room at the White House:

Immortalized on TV and in movies as the glamorous place to be, the briefing room is, in reality, a dump with broken chairs, torn carpeting, dangling wires and a musty smell that's especially pungent in the summertime. One of the area's two bathrooms died long ago, and the air conditioner barely works. Recent rains seeped into the basement press area, flooding the C-Span booth and prompting reporters to duct-tape massive cracks that formed along the walls. "There are stains you don't want to know the origin of," says the Houston Chronicle's Julie Mason.

The gripes are more than cosmetic. Engineers for the General Services Administration, which is overseeing the renovation, found asbestos in the press room and have called the area a "firetrap."

The place is a dump, the press complains. Solution? Revamp the place, right? Wrong.

When President George W. Bush returns to D.C. from his Texas vacation, Press Secretary Tony Snow will brief reporters at Jackson Place, across the street from the White House, where the press corps will work until the rehab is complete...

But like many dealings between the administration and the press, the move has been eyed with suspicion by reporters, who worry the renovation is a ruse to get them out of the White House for good...

"Now taking bets," longtime CBS News reporter Mark Knoller wrote in an e-mail to members of the White House Correspondents Association. "We'll be back in the press room by a) the mid-term elections, b) mission accomplished in Iraq, c) the 2008 elections, d) the next millennium or e) never."

Check out what torture Bush's dastardly plan entails for the press corps:

While no costs have been released, the renovation is set to make the briefing room as fancy as it seems in the movies: wider seats, microphones and Internet access at every seat and a plasma screen behind the press secretary's podium.

Horror of horrors. The silky Tony Snow and his secret, Machiavellian plan to repress reportorial dissent with high-definition television programming...

"Give us a few weeks, and it will probably be trashed again," Mason says. "That is, if we ever come back."

Why are we spending taxpayer money on sprucing the place up for these people? Ingrates.