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June 7, 2010

Statement Issued by the Board of the White House Correspondents’ Association

Helen Thomas’ comments were indefensible and the White House Correspondents’ Association℠ board firmly dissociates itself from them. Many in our profession who have known Helen for years were saddened by the comments, which were especially unfortunate in light of her role as a trail blazer on the White House beat.

While Helen has not been a member of the WHCA℠ for many years, her special status in the briefing room has helped solidify her as the dean of the White House press corps so we feel the need to speak out strongly on this matter.

We want to emphasize that the role of the WHCA℠ is to represent the White House press corps in its dealings with the White House on coverage-related issues. We do not police the speech of our members or colleagues. We are not involved at all in issuing White House credentials; that is the purview of the White House itself.

But the incident does revive the issue of whether it is appropriate  for an opinion columnist to have a front row seat in the WH briefing room. That is an issue under the jurisdiction of this board. We are actively seeking input from our association members on this important matter, and we have scheduled a special meeting of the WHCA℠ board on Thursday to decide on the seating issue.

Ed Chen, Bloomberg

David Jackson, USA Today

Caren Bohan, Reuters

Ed Henry, CNN

Julie Mason, DC Examiner

Don Gonyea, National Public Radio

Steve Scully, C-SPAN

Doug Mills, New York Times

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